A FORMER mayor and honorary alderman has been awarded Gosport’s highest honour.
Councillors at Gosport Borough Council unanimously agreed to award Honorary Alderman Graham Hewitt the freedom of the borough.
It recognises the service Mr Hewitt, of Beech Grove in Alverstoke, has given to the borough and its people for 50 years as a councillor, charter mayor, alderman and charity fundraiser.
He was the borough’s youngest mayor, becoming charter mayor in April 1974, aged 33 – a position he held for two years.
A Labour party member, Mr Hewitt describes himself as a ‘passionate socialist’ and is pleased a Tory-controlled council has chosen to recognise him despite political differences.
He said: ‘It is a great honour and I’m very grateful, very pleased. It came really as a great surprise to me. There’s nowhere like Gosport, I’m very proud of it and very pleased to be a son of Gosport.
‘It is the highest honour of the town. I am a bit overwhelmed and amazed.’
The well-respected freeman was instrumental in saving the borough council when in 1972 and 1973 both Fareham and Portsmouth councils sought to incorporate the authority.
He helped successfully lead the ‘Hands off Gosport’ campaign, after the government of the day announced plans to reorganise local government.
But his achievements are not just political, as he is also a founder member of the Gosport Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The society, founded in 1980, has raised more than £500,000 for the charity – much of which has been counted on his kitchen table.
In his working life, Mr Hewitt worked his way up the ranks at The News, rising from office junior to company secretary and senior director.
Deputy leader of the council Cllr Graham Burgess said he fondly remembers when former PM Margaret Thatcher visited the town and met Mr Hewitt.
He said: ‘She shook hands with Graham and I took photos of them. I am really pleased that we have conferred this honour.
‘He’s born and bred in Gosport, worked here, supported Gosport – you can’t have a better person than that to be a better freeman.’
The vote on Wednesday night saw Cllr Peter Edgar, Cllr Dennis Wright, leader of the opposition Labour group, and Mayor of Gosport Cllr Richard Dickson all pay tribute to Mr Hewitt.