Former Mayor of Harrow Keith Toms given freedom of borough

A former councillor and Mayor of Harrow was granted freedom of the borough in honour of his decades of public service.

Keith Toms, who served as a Harrow councillor for 32 continuous years from 1974, was presented with the title by the current mayor, Cllr Nitin Parekh, on Thursday (November 26).

He served as the borough’s first citizen in 1997/98, during which time he helped host Princess Diana’s final public appearance at Northwick Park Children’s Centre and became the first Harrow mayor to appoint a rabbi – Simon Franses – as chaplain.

Several councillors paid tribute to Keith’s career in local politics, which also saw him receive the honorific title of alderman upon leaving his post as councillor in 2006.

They noted his passion for campaigning for worthy causes, including his organisation of a protest and occupation at Northwood and Pinner District Hospital in 1983, which was set to close.

The occupation lasted three months, with the hospital ultimately surviving for another 20 years.

Cllr Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council, said: “This honour is richly-deserved, and I am thrilled to see Keith recognised in this way by Harrow Council.

“Keith has a wonderful record of service and activism, which stretches back over decades and he still continues to actively support voluntary and community groups.

“He has always stood proudly in embracing the diversity of our borough and beyond and has a great record on fighting for a fairer and safer world, where people should be treated with dignity and respect.”

Conservative councillor Chris Mote noted how his father, Harold, would “spar [with Keith] in the council chamber” before “racing to the bar” to see who could buy the first pint for the other.

And Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West, said Keith “continues to inspire us all” and he was “delighted” to see him given freedom of the borough.

The honour is to recognise persons of distinction or organisations with eminent service to and with connections with Harrow.

It has been granted to several famous names, including former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill and athletics hero Sir Roger Bannister.

Harrow Times | Local News