Monty could score Freedom of the City alongside Hays Travel boss

Jimmy Montgormery, who could add a Freedom of the City of Sunderland under plans by the council.
Jimmy Montgormery, who could add a Freedom of the City of Sunderland under plans by the council.
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Leaders are looking to give two Freedoms of the City of Sunderland as they reward sons of Wearside for their achievements.

Sunderland City Council's cabinet is considering a report on recommending freedoms to former Sunderland AFC player Jimmy Montgomery BEM and businessman John Hays.

John Hays could also be in line for the accolade.

John Hays could also be in line for the accolade.

Councillor Paul Watson, council leader, said: "Here are two individuals who have made huge and notable contributions to Sunderland and life in our city.

"I'm looking forward to next week's meeting and recommending that we agree this at cabinet.

"These two proposals would seal the relationships between the nominees and the City of Sunderland.

"These freedoms would recognise their contributions to our community."

The council says it has a tradition of honouring notable citizens of Sunderland who have made significant contributions to wellbeing and community spirit by conferring on them the Honorary Freedom of the City.

The cabinet report states that: "Jimmy Montgomery, BEM has been nominated in recognition of his services to the city as an ambassador, footballer, youth team manager and coach in addition to his involvement with many fundraising events for a number of Wearside charities.

"Jimmy, fondly known as ‘Monty,’ was born in Hendon, Sunderland, and as a youngster joined Sunderland AFC in 1960. He went on to make a record 627 appearances for Sunderland."

The report adds: "He had a pivotal role in the 1973 F.A. Cup Final against Leeds United where he made an iconic double save to seal a 1-0 win.

"This was considered by many to be the greatest double save ever seen at Wembley."

In 2012 he became the first official club ambassador, to be a host on match days and represent SAFC at outside events. He has been the driving force behind the SAFC Former Players’ Association, plus arranged and hosted many fundraising events for a number of Wearside charities.

He received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Sunderland in 2014 and then in June 2015 he was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to football.

The report adds: "Jimmy is held in very high esteem by residents of Sunderland and having dedicated over half a century to football he is hugely respected in the footballing world."

For Mr Hays, the cabinet report notes: "John Hays has now been in the travel industry for more than three decades. Hays Travel now employs more than 1,000 people, including 406 at its Sunderland headquarters in Vine Place. Very recently Hays Travel was voted as one of the Best Companies to Work for by The Times.

"Hays Travel continues on with its expansion beyond the northeast but no matter how large the business becomes, Sunderland-born John is committed to remaining in the city centre."

A date for the freedom ceremonies is to be confirmed later in the year.

The last freedom to be awarded was two years in March 2014 for Nissan's chief performance officer Trevor Mann. In 2013, freedoms were awarded to former Sunderland AFC player Niall Quinn MBE and Joël Batteux the Mayor of Sunderland's twin-town St Nazaire.

Other freedoms of Sunderland include television reporter Kate Adie, 4 Regiment Royal Artillery, 3 Rifles and the crew of HMS Ocean, Sunderland's adopted warship and the Royal Navy's largest.

The proposals for Mr Montgomery and Mr Hays will be discussed by the cabinet next Wednesday.