A long-serving public figure in the town said she was ‘overwhelmed’ at being awarded honorary freedom of North Horsham.
Pat Rutherford, who has served on North Horsham Parish Council for around 25 years and is a former Horsham district councillor, was honoured at a special presentation on Friday November 21 at Roffey Millennium Hall.
Pat was recognised by figures who have worked with her in the community over the years.
She said: “I have enjoyed my time so much. It has not been work at all. I consider myself very fortunate.
“I will never forget the reception I have had today.”
Roger Wilton, chairman of North Horsham Parish Council, described how the quality of the buildings the parish council owned was ‘in no small measure a reflection of the careful chairmanship [of the property sub committee] that Pat had over a number of years.’
He described her ‘overriding graciousness and kindness’ and felt she was ‘deserving of our respect and admiration’.
Pat was the parish council’s Age UK Horsham District representative, and served on the board of housing association Saxon Weald from 2003 to 2012 where she helped to introduce many changes seen as beneficial by tenants.
Pat was also a councillor at HDC from the late 1980s until 2011, first for the Forest ward and then for Roffey South.
Nigel Goodall, headteacher of Kingslea Primary School, praised Pat’s work as chair of governors at Chesworth Infants School as it amalgamated with St Leonard’s Community Infant School to create Kingslea.
He explained: “Pat was such a driving force in how we got the success we have had.”
Martin Pearson, chief executive at HDC until 2005, added: “Pat always had the local community in mind above everything else. She had a clear vision and it made my job easier.
“Roffey has a lot to thank her for, the district has a lot to thank her for, and I personally have a lot to thank her for, for making my time as chief executive such a productive one.”
Parish clerk Sue Kemp presented Pat with flowers on behalf of staff past and present.
The award was made under special new powers granted to parish councils.