Singleton names fifth-ever Honorary Freeman of the Shire in virtual presentation


Former mayor of Singleton and current serving councillor John Martin OAM has tonight become just the fifth person ever to be named an Honorary Freeman of the Shire.

In the highest civic honour Singleton can bestow, Cr Martin was honoured for his outstanding and exemplary contribution to the Singleton local government area stretching more than 60 years, including life membership of the State Emergency Service (SES), 50 years as a councillor and as the area’s first popularly elected mayor. 

He and his late wife Jan were also involved in a range of organisations including Apex and Meals On Wheels.

It comes after he and his late wife Jan were inducted into the Wambo Coal Singleton Hall of Fame last year.

Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore said John was most deserving of the honour.

“John is rightly recognised as one of our local legends, but he is equally regarded across the region and the State for his expertise in a range of fields, from flooding and emergency response to his representation of mining-related councils,” she said. 

“I am often asked by politicians and senior bureaucrats from across the State about John’s wellbeing, and to pass on their best wishes.

“It’s a great privilege to present this honour to John, and my only regret is that we couldn’t have a proper audience in the Council Chamber to mark this important occasion 

“We are already planning for a civic ceremony as soon as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, so that we can give Cr Martin the proper recognition this honour deserves.”

Tonight’s presentation means Cr Martin joins a select and distinguished list of only four previous recipients, including:

  • Colonel (later Brigadier) AW Hammett (1984);
  • Neil McNamara OAM (1999);
  • Major General Peter Cosgrove AM MC (2000); and
  • Lt Col Andrew Lowe (2011). 

Cr Martin was the mayor who awarded the honour to Major General Peter Cosgrove (now Sir Peter Cosgrove AK CVO MC), who was serving in Timor at the time.

Cr Martin said he was embarrassed by the attention.

“I believe in working for the community and helping the community. My wife and I did this together,” he said. 

“It means a lot to people in the community to recognise the work that’s been done for the community, and not just by me, but others including all the councillors over the past 50 years. 

“People do things for different reasons, and I class it all as just part of what we did – my wife and I, together – and I’ve been pleased and proud to have done all that. I will never retire completely from community service.”