The Honorary Freeman of the City is bestowed on a citizen in recognition of their services to their city and their country. The City has a total of 9 Honorary Freeman, who have made an important contribution to the City and become an integral part of the City's history.
What is an Honorary Freeman?
Under the former Local Government Act 1960, a local government may confer upon any person the title of “Honorary Freeman of the Municipality”, although title does not grant any right or privilege other than that of being so designated.
Although this legislation has since been revoked, the City of Stirling has continued with the tradition, bestowing the honorary freemanship upon Maurice Edgar Hamer OBE JP in 1972.
The tradition of the freemen
Freemen are a vital part of municipal tradition through the centuries. Some traditions have lapsed in modern times, so the City of Stirling is pleased to have such old traditions revived, or new ones created.
Many cities can trace the title of Freeman through their records for more than 6 centuries. The early development of a town was largely influenced by its freemen, who in the early Middle Ages appointed the town mayor.
Early freemen were also known as burgesses, and a newly appointed burgess was given a Burgess Certificate, which was a parchment documenting his admission and bearing the signature of the Mayor and the Town Clerk.
In modern times, the Honorary Freeman of the City is quite different from its predecessor. Because the traditional status of Freeman was a great honour bestowed on a citizen by a municipal corporation, the title has since been granted to eminent citizens in recognition of their services to their city and their country.
In Britain, the custom lapsed for 50 years during the 19th century, but many distinguished people in British history have been made honorary freeman.
Honorary Freeman of the City of Stirling
The intention of the Honorary Freeman of the City of Stirling was that it would be an Honour Roll of Distinguished Citizens. The City has since bestowed a total of 9 Freeman, the most recent being Domenicantonio Cosimo Vallelonga JP on 4 July 2009.
Each Freeman of the City of Stirling has made an important contribution to the City and become an integral part of the City's history.
Maurice Edgar Hamer OBE JP (Dec.)
Mr Hamer was born in 1901 and became a member of the Perth Road Board (predecessor of the City of Stirling) in 1937. During his 23 years on the board, Mr Hamer spent 3 years as Chairman (1953–1956). He was also Chairman of the Metropolitan Region Planning Authority (1960–1972) and the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Board.
Mr Hamer was honoured with the title of ‘Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ (OBE) for his services to the people.
He became the first resident of the City of Stirling to be conferred the title of Honorary Freeman on 25 August 1972.
William Gibbney BEM JP (Dec.)
Mr William Gibbney was born on 22 September 1894 in West Perth. He was an instructor, manager (42 years) and Councillor at the Royal Western Australian Institution of the Blind. He was a member of the Perth Road Board from 1937 to 1950.
He was also a member of the St John Ambulance Brigade and the Rechabite Societies of West Perth and Maylands. He also served as secretary (36 years) and president of the Friendly’s Societies of WA, and treasurer and secretary of Maylands Autumn Centre Management Committee. Mr Gibbney was awarded the St John Medallion for dedicated service.
On 14 June 1975 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the British Empire Medal, in recognition of his outstanding service to the community.
Mr Gibbney was made an Honorary Freeman on the 5 August 1978.
Neil Campbell Hawkins CBE JP (Dec.)
Born in 1908, Mr Neil Campbell Hawkins was an elected member of the City from 1953–1974, through its evolution from Perth Road Board to Shire of Perth to City of Stirling. He has served the community as Councillor (19 years), Mayor (3 years) and Chairman of the Metropolitan Region Planning Authority (1972-1979).
Mr Hawkins has also been a member of the North Beach Surf Life Saving Club (life member from 1928), Committee of Management, Trigg, North Beach, the Watermans Progress Association and Chairman of the Charles Riley Reserve Advisory Committee.
Mr Hawkins was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Australian Planning Institute in 1979. He was also made a Commander of the British Empire.
Mr Hawkins was the third person to be made a Freeman of the City on 18 November 1984.
Georgiana Alma Venville OAM JP (Dec.)
Mrs Georgiana Alma Venville served as a Councillor in the Maylands ward in 1973 and was Mayor from 1975–76 and Deputy Mayor in 1977. She was also Secretary of the Maylands Ratepayers Association (1970–89) and Chairperson of the Metropolitan Refuse Disposal Committee.
She also served as Chairperson of the North West Zone Committee (1977–83), Mindarie Regional Council and the Maylands Skill Share (1980–89).
Mrs Venville was honoured for her services to the community on the 25 November 1989 when she became s the first women to be bestowed the title of Honorary Freeman.
Ronald Nathan Stone AM (Dec.)
Born on the 27 February 1921, Mr Ronald Nathan Stone was an elected member of the City from 1959 to 1978. Mr Stone has served as Mayor (1974), Chairman of the Public Relations Committee, and Public Relations Officer. He was a co-founder of the Inglewood Autumn Centre, the Inglewood Library, the Inglewood Ratepayers and Progress Association.
He was also a member of the Horological Guild of Australia and West Australian Consultative Retail Council, and has been President of the Mt Ingle Kindergarten, Marjorie Mann Lawley Child Care Centre, Osborne Lions Club, Highgate Branch of the RSL, State President of B-Nai B-Rith and State and Federal President of the Australian Jewellers Association. He also served as sub-warden for the State War Memorial and Chairman of the Perth branch of the Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Appeal.
Mr Stone is the fifth Freeman of the Municipality and was conferred on the 23rd of November 1991.
Richard Sebastian Guelfi (Dec.)
Born on the 15 June 1915, Mr Richard Guelfi has served as a Councillor of the Osborne Ward (1962– 1971) and Deputy Mayor (1971).
He has been a member of the Osborne Park Football club, Osborne Park Progress Association (1934-1950’s), Osborne Park Agricultural Society (life membership, office bearer for 24 years), Osborne Park St John Ambulance and Osborne Park Bowling Club.
Mr Guelfi has received a Gold Medal from the Italian City of Lucca for lifelong service to his people.
On the 19 February 1994, Mr Guelfi was made an Honorary Freeman of the Municipality.
George Joseph Strickland JP
Born on the 3 October 1942, Mr George Strickland has served as Councillor (1981–1990), Deputy Mayor (1984–86), Mayor (1986–88), and Chairman of Finance at the City of Stirling.
Mr Strickland has also dedicated his time to being the Chairman of Star Swamp, Chairman of the Trigg Bushland Committee, and Chairman of the Charles Riley Reserve Advisory Committee (for 21 years).
Mr Strickland is the seventh Honorary Freeman of the Municipality and was conferred on the 23 February 2000.
Rodney Constantine PSM
Mr Rodney Constantine was born on the 28 March 1944 and has served as Assistant Land and Properties Officer, Sub-Accountant, Shire Treasurer, City Treasurer, Manager (Corporate Planning and Finance) and Executive Manager (Finance and Corporate Services).
He has also been a Deputy Chief Executive Officer and acting Chief Executive Officer of the Tamala Park Regional Council.
He received a Public Service Medal in 2000.
On the 13 October 2007, Mr Constantine was bestowed the title of ‘Honorary Freeman of the Municipality’.
Tony Vallelonga JP
Mr Tony Vallelonga is the 9th Honorary Freeman for the City of Stirling.
Born on the 28 November 1946, Mr Tony Vallelonga has served as Councillor (1988–2005), Mayor (1997–2005), Chairman of the Appealathon Ball (1981–86), and Chairman of the Main Street Commercial Site.
He has been a member of the Mindarie Regional Council, Metropolitan Planning Council, Osborne Park/Balcatta Businessmen’s Association, Osborne Park Bowling Club, Osborne Park Ratepayers Association, Gwelup Progress Association and many other Committees and Community groups. He was also Vice-President of the WA Italian Club and Vice-President Ethnic Community Council.
He was awarded the Meritorious Service Award in the 2002 WALGA Honours, a Certificate of Appreciation in 1998 WALGA Honours, an Australian Friendship Award, and the Family Values Award 1999—Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
On the 4th July 2009 was bestowed the title 'Honorary Freeman of the Municipality.'