Campaign now under way for tribute to city's favourite son

by ALISON BELLAMY

CALLS for Sir Jimmy Savile to be made a Freeman of the City of Leeds are pouring into the Yorkshire Evening Post.

We have been inundated with calls for Sir Jimmy to be made a Freeman of the City, since we launched the drive to mark his 80th birthday yesterday.

He had a party at his Leeds home for friends and received more than 70 phone calls through the day from friends, relatives and acquaintances.

Sir Jimmy said: “Being made a Freeman of the City of Leeds would be awesome. I have always stayed close to Leeds and its people.”

The leader of Leeds City Council, Coun Mark Harris, has said the call for him to have Freedom of the city would be given serious consideration and would have to be discussed at a top level council meeting in Leeds.

Professor Alistair Hall, senior consultant cardiologist at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital, said: “I am 100 per cent in agreement that the wonderful Sir Jimmy should be made Freeman of the City.

“Despite his fame he still volunteers at the hospital and the list of good work and fundraising he has done is too long to list.

“He has supported a lot of cardiology research and helped with The Family Heart Study and toured on the big red bus across the UK. He has helped us to fundraise to buy a special scanner and only recently donated a large amount of money to fund scholarships for junior doctors.”

The senior cardiologist, who carried out Sir Jimmy’s quadruple heart bypass operation a decade ago, said the broadcaster and sportsman was an amazing person who fully deserved to be honoured publically.

Charities

Sir Jimmy has raised more than 40m during his lifetime for various charities, including the Leeds Hospitals. He has run 217 marathons and countless fun runs.

Catholic Church bosses in Leeds also backed calls for Sir Jimmy to be honoured. A spokesman for the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds, said: “Over the years Sir Jimmy has done lots of good work for the church. As long as the 1960s while busy being famous, he used to help with collections at the former Sacred Heart church.

Mavis Price, Sir Jimmy’s friend and one of his helpers, said: “It is high time Jimmy was made a Freeman. I have written to the council before about it. He does so much.”

alison.bellamy@ypn.co.uk