5 legends of Luton set to be honoured with freedom of the borough tonight

They’ve each made a ‘substantial contribution’ to the town
Luton town hall. Picture: Tony MargiocchiLuton town hall. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
Luton town hall. Picture: Tony Margiocchi

Five prominent people are due to be honoured by Luton Borough Council this evening, (Tuesday) having each made a substantial contribution to the town.

The five ‘legends’ of Luton are Dr Nazia Khanum, Imam Qazi Abdul Aziz Chishti, Geoffrey Farr, Derek Ludlow and Mick Harford.

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Each of them will be presented formally with scrolls recording their admission as honorary freemen and freewoman of the borough of Luton.

The special ceremony is “in pursuance of the resolution of the extraordinary meeting of the borough council on February 19, 2024”, according to a report to councillors.

Labour council leader and Lewsey councillor Hazel Simmons told that meeting: “I’m pleased to make this recommendation to council. These are five people who’ve done an awful lot of good work in the town,” she explained.

“We’ll have an opportunity to relay that when we honour these five people during a special meeting of the council in March.”

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The freedom of the borough is the highest award a council can bestow and is in line with the provisions of Section 249 of the Local Government Act 1972.

This is also a rarely used acknowledgement, in respect of the work and contribution of all five.

A vote during the February meeting obtained the two thirds majority required to proceed with the decision to honour them in this way.

Town mayor councillor Yaqub Hanif said: “I would advise that further to the resolution, an extraordinary meeting of the council will be held on Tuesday March 26 to present the five with scrolls recording their admission as honorary freemen and freewoman of the borough.”

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Dr Nazia KhanumIn is a Bangladeshi-born British management consultant, researcher and director of equality in diversity, as well as a non-executive director for Luton Primary Care Trust. She brought her family to Luton in the early 1980s, and is on the boards of several key decision-making organisations.

Imam Qazi Abdul Aziz Chishti was awarded an MBE for his service to the Muslim community with the Jamia Islamia Ghousia Trust and the Luton Sunni Council of Mosques, while also holding the role of honorary chaplain at Luton and Dunstable Hospital for more than 40 years.

Sir Derek Ludlow chairs the Ludlow group of companies of Luton and has been rewarded in the past for his community work in Luton and Bedfordshire, supporting several local organisations and charities. He was made a Deputy Lieutenant for Bedfordshire in 2008.

Geoffrey Farr is a former President of the Chamber of Commerce for Luton and Bedfordshire, and a former High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Deputy Lieutenant. He has been a supporter of Keech Hospice Care in Luton, since the charity’s formation.

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And Mick Harford is the chief recruitment officer at Luton Town Football Club, earning two England international caps during his playing career. He was part of the Luton side which won the League Cup, beating Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in 1988, and managed the Hatters to win the Football League Trophy at the same venue in 2009.