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Honorary Freeman Accolade for Paul Cowin

The highest honour that Douglas Council can bestow has been awarded posthumously to a figure who devoted almost half a century of his life to the capital.

At a special ceremony this afternoon (Friday), the Freedom of the Borough was presented to the family of Paul Cowin.

He passed away last December at the age of 66, just a few months after retiring, following 49 years of service with the local authority, the last 24 as Assistant Town Clerk.

Council leader Claire Wells said: ‘Paul was widely respected, providing far-reaching service to Douglas. Staff and councillors alike continue to miss his wise counsel, advice and friendship.

‘It was with profound sadness that he was not able to enjoy a long and healthy retirement with his family which he so deserved after such committed public service.

‘We do take comfort in the fact that, before he passed away, Paul knew this honour was to be officially bestowed upon him and it is one of which he was immensely proud. We share that pride with his family today.’
Paul’s wife Anne, who attended the ceremony in the Council Chamber with daughters Hannah and Becky and four grandchildren, received the illuminated address on his behalf.

In being made an Honorary Freeman, Paul’s name is added to a roll of honour which includes Sir Winston Churchill, Norman Wisdom, the Bee Gees and Mark Cavendish.

The Freedom of the Borough of Douglas was first awarded in 1924 and has been granted to more than 30 recipients over the past century.

Paul began work for Douglas Council in July 1973 as a Clerical Assistant in the Town Clerk’s Department, moving to become an Administrative Assistant seven years later and then manager of Administrative Services (later Council Services) in 1995. In November 1998 he was appointed Assistant Town Clerk, a position he held until his retirement.

Throughout his long career, he assisted and supported all the legal, administrative and professional duties associated with the running of the Council, managing and supervising the Council, Committee, Civic and Ceremonial functions, as well as the onerous task of arranging and running local elections. He also attended more than 500 Council Meetings and oversaw the running of 48 elections and by-elections.

His passion for Douglas was evident and, in addition, his many other roles included leading on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day parades and services, annual fireworks displays, Civic Sunday and D-Day and VE & VJ Day commemorations.

Last summer, he was responsible for arranging the lighting of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacon for the Isle of Man and Douglas – an event he also arranged to mark the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

It was revealed he attended 49 Civic Sundays, missing only one as he did not drive in 1974 and the buses between Laxey and Douglas were not too reliable!