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Honorary Borough Freeman award for Simmondley man

A life-long commitment to public service has led to a Simmondley man becoming an Honorary Freeman of the Borough.

Peter Matthews JP, of Peaknaze Close, was granted the honour by High Peak Borough Council at a special meeting of the Council on Thursday (6 October).

Council Leader, Councillor Tony Ashton, said: "Peter has given exemplary service to the High Peak both as an elected councillor, a former Mayor of Glossop and as one of the longest-ever serving magistrates in Derbyshire.

"We're delighted to recognise and celebrate that dedication by admitting him as an Honorary Freeman of the Borough - the first time we have bestowed this honour for over eight years and a fitting tribute from the High Peak to thank him for the services he has fulfilled."

Mr Matthews entered public life as a Glossop Borough councillor in May 1964 where he served on a range of committees and also represented the Council on a number of outside bodies. He was elected Mayor of the Borough in 1969.

Following local government reorganisation in 1974, Mr Matthews served on the newly-formed High Peak Borough Council for the next three years.

He became a Magistrate in 1969 - a role he held for over 36 years until his retirement making him the longest serving magistrate in Derbyshire at that point. During his tenure he became the first Chairman of the combined bench when the Buxton High Peak and Glossop benches merged.

On his retirement from the bench in 2005 Mr Matthews was placed on the supplemental list of magistrates and retains the title of Justice of the Peace.

In 2007 he took on the role of independent member on the Council's Standards Committee, subsequently becoming Chairman in 2008.

This re-kindled interest in local government led to him becoming the Borough Council's first Independent Person following the introduction of the Local Government Act 2011 and he continues to use his wide-ranging experience by contributing to the work of the Standards Committee.

Mr Matthews and his wife Marilyn, both born in Glossop to local families, have been married for 62 years and have one married daughter and two grandsons. A keen supporter of Glossop North End FC, Mr Matthews can be found at the club's home games as well as many of their away fixtures.

A past member of the Round Table he continues to be a member of 41 Club, an organisation for ex-Tablers, and also attends meetings of the local Probus Club.

A celebration event, hosted by the Council, will take place later in the municipal year when a commemorative scroll will be presented to Mr Matthews.