I WOULD like to add my voice to the suggestion that Sir Jimmy Savile be made a Freeman of Leeds.
Sir Jimmy is well-known for his amazing efforts for Stoke Mandeville, marathon running and countless other fundraising and other charitable activities, to say nothing of his personal generosity towards deserving causes, as exemplified in your recent report of his wonderful philanthropy towards Leeds Medical School.
However, there must be multitudinous examples over the years of the number of times he has given freely of his time and presence without wanting anything more than a thank you (unlike very many others in the entertainment industry). About 50 years ago, at a time when Jimmy (as he was then) was top of the personalities ladder, I was one of the organisers of a Donkey Derby being run by two small, relatively unknown, Jewish charities in a field near Shadwell. Jimmy had agreed to open it and, needless to say, it being June, it began raining half an hour before the start.
We began to fear that he would not turn up when, to everyone's amazement, not only did he arrive but he was driven into the field sat on top of the back seat of his Rolls-Royce with the top down, waving his big cigar – giving the event a flying start.
Ever since, whenever I have seen or heard of him, I picture him that evening with his big grin in the pouring rain.
Surely if her Majesty the Queen saw fit to reward him, then the city in which he was born can follow suit. After all, I am sure that over the years far less deserving individuals have been recognised in this way.
Percy Stern, by email