Merry Hill tycoon Roy Richardson given Freedom of Dudley borough
Business legend Roy Richardson has been made a Freeman of the Borough of Dudley at a packed mayor-making ceremony.
The 88-year-old was presented with the freedom scroll by the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Alan Taylor, in his first act after officially taking office.
Both Mr Taylor and the out-going mayor, Councillor Dave Tyler, who first recommended him for the honour, praised Mr Richardson for his successful business career and for his work in the community – in particular his support for events such as the annual Festival of Remembrance.
Mr Richardson, and his late-twin brother Don, supported the building of Dudley’s Cenotaph in 2001.
They underwrote fund-raising efforts, offering to cover any costs over and above the money raised by the local ex-servicemen’s committee.
And, in a surprise for Mr Richardson before the mayor-making event, a pair of benches were unveiled at the Cenotaph engraved to commemorate the brothers.
One was dedicated to Don Richardson, and the other bears the inscription: “Dr Roy Neil Richardson, Freeman of the Borough of Dudley, business leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist, a true Englishman.”
Around 260 people packed into Dudley Town Hall for the event, to hear Councillor Tyler describe Mr Richardson as ‘Black Country through and through’.
Mr Richardson and his brother are best known for their redevelopment of the Round Oak Steelworks site and the surrounding land in Brierley Hill, creating the Merry Hill shopping centre and the Waterfront business park in the 1980s.
They went on to create a property and business empire that is run today by Mr Richardson’s three sons – Carl, Martyn and Lee.
It is still based at Oldbury, at offices on the Birchley Island.
Mr Richardson is also a member of the Dudley borough business champions group, which helps forge closer links with both Dudley Council and the business community to help boost the economy.
Speaking after being declared a freeman, he paid tribute to staff at the Richardson business, some of whom had worked for the company for 50 years.
He also pointed out that 74 years previously, on June 6, 1944, 22 soldiers, mainly from Dudley, had been in the first landing craft to hit the beach on D-Day. All but two were killed. Their average age, he said, was just 19.
Mr Richardson also spoke of his honour at being the first business figure to be made a Freeman of Dudley.
He went on to present a donation to Councillor Taylor, to launch his charity appeal for Headway Black Country, Hope Centre in Halesowen and White House Cancer Support.
He also presented a donation to outgoing Mayor Dave Tyler to help him hit his target of a record mayor’s charity appeal total of £55,000.
The honour is the second the Black Country tycoon has received in recent months. In December, he was made Honoury Freeman of Sandwell.
Speaking before the event, Councillor Taylor said: “Roy Richardson has achieved spectacular success throughout his lifetime.
“Despite becoming a recognised face and name across the business world, he has always stayed close and true to his Dudley roots. He has been a champion for the borough, and the wider Black Country, across the globe.
“I’m delighted we can highlight the work Roy has done, and the many achievements he has made, in this way.
“He will join a long list of big names to receive the honour, including most recently world tennis star Jordanne Whiley and comedian Lenny Henry.”