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Chair of MLT made an Honorary Free-woman of the Borough

Dame Julie Kenny, Chair of Maltby Learning Trust is made an Honorary Freewoman of the Borough

We couldn't be more proud of Dame Julie Kenny, Chair of Maltby Learning Trust as she is made an Honorary Freewoman of the Borough, the ultimate accolade that Rotherham Borough can bestow on one of its citizens.

A nomination to admit Dame Julie as a honorary freewoman of the borough was submitted in June, and on Friday an extraordinary meeting of the council was held to bestow the honour - the first in seven years.

Last year, the self-made Rotherham businesswoman became a Dame Commander of the British Empire, the second-highest honour in the land, for her crucial role in securing the future of the Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham. 

Leaving her Sheffield home at 18, Julie travelled to the opposite end of the country and found a job as a junior secretary in a Cornish law firm. Ten years of part time study led to the second career as a lawyer.

Returning to South Yorkshire with a belief in a new security system, Julie set up Pyronix with her husband in 1986. Becoming a single mother of three on the break-up of her marriage, she grew Pyronix, which is still based at Hellaby, into an award-winning organisation supplying 65 countries. When she sold the company in 2016 its turnover was £25m. She was awarded a CBE in 2002 for her services to industry in Yorkshire and Humberside.

In an emotional speech, Dame Julie told councillors: “I’m very honoured that you have bestowed the honour of Freedom of the borough on me.

“Rotherham is a great town, its businesses are the best. It has fantastic culture, arts and heritage, and most of all, its people are simply the best.

“I was blessed with the people I employed, they made the difference to the business, and together we created wonderful products and services, and made a huge economic difference. I still get a sense of pride when I see my products installed all over the world.

“My proudest achievement after my children is a legacy for Rotherham, and that’s the work I do at Wentworth Woodhouse."

Coun Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council added: “I want to add my congratulations to Julie Kenny on the awarding of this freedom of the borough award today, which reflects a marvellous life of of service.

“It’s seven years since we last awarded freedom of the borough. It is the highest honour that we can bestow on anyone with connections to our borough, and it’s right that we do that all the sparing we are for people who have done a truly exceptional things.

“The award should not be done for job well done or because someone has reached a particular level, they should be awarded because in individual has gone the extra mile in the contribution they’ve made to stand out, head and shoulders above others.

“And I can think of no one more deserving of the award, under those criteria than Julie - philanthropist, volunteer, entrepreneur, trailblazer.”