Freedom of Lochaber for over 40 years’ service to community
The Freedom of Lochaber was yesterday (Sunday 26 June) bestowed upon Mr Colin Neilson.
The prestigious honour and title of ‘Freeman’ is rarely presented by The Highland Council to Highland residents in recognition of their outstanding contributions to their communities.
Elected to Fort William Town Council in 1971, Mr Neilson juggled this with his role as a life-appointed Justice of the Peace and as a member (and subsequently Chairman) of the local Health Council. During this time he also helped establish the Fort William Football Club becoming its first Chairman.
1975 saw Mr Neilson become an Elected Member with the new Lochaber District Council becoming the Chairman of the Leisure and Recreation Committee and then Chairman of the District Council from 1982 to 1988.
Between 1981 and 1991 Mr Neilson was a Board Member (and subsequently Chairman) of Alcoholics Anonymous for Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as Chairman of Alcoholics Anonymous European Services Committee.
In 1988 he was appointed to the Highland Health Board becoming its Vice-Chairman in 1999.
Throughout the period a number of other appointments were also held including Board Member of Highland Opportunity Limited; Member of the Fishermen’s Mission Council; member of the North of Scotland Electricity Consumers’ Committee and in 2000 was appointed to the National Appeal Panel for entry to Pharmaceutical Lists.
Presenting the Freedom at a small ceremony of family and friends, Highland Council Lochaber Leader Cllr Thomas MacLennan paid tribute to Mr Neilson he said:
“Colin is a well-known and respected Fort William resident who has carried out a significant number of roles in local government, health and sport sectors, on local, national and international stages. His unstinting enthusiasm and dedication have contributed greatly to local government, healthcare and sport in the Lochaber area and beyond. Not many people can claim to have served their community for over forty years, and it is in recognition of this service that The Highland Council is pleased and honoured to confer the Freedom of Lochaber to Colin Neilson.”