In a special celebratory ceremony held on Monday 21 August, the City of Bradford honoured three of its homegrown cricket stars by inducting them into the esteemed Roll of Honorary Freemen of The City. The honour was bestowed on Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid MBE, and Harry Brook, in recognition of their contributions to the world of cricket and their significance as role models for their local communities.
Celebrating sporting triumphs and local pride
The ceremony celebrated this combination of local talent, international achievement and deep-rooted connections. Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashi MBE were part of the England team’s extraordinary ‘super over’ showdown against New Zealand in the final of the 50-over competition at Lord’s on 14 July 2019.
This unforgettable victory marked England’s ascent to World Cup glory after 12 previous attempts at the crown. In recognition of this, Bradford Council’s Freemen of the City selection panel recommended the honour for Bairstow and Rashid in 2020. Their names now join a distinguished lineup of past recipients who have demonstrated excellence in their respective fields.
Also awarded the Freedom of the City was Harry Brook, a proud son of Bradford who was born in Keighley and raised in Burley-in-Wharfedale. A prominent figure in the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Brook’s success culminated in his international debut for England in January 2022. The year proved to be a crowning moment for Brook as he was a member of the England team that clinched the T20 World Cup.
His talent and dedication have earned him various accolades. These include the Professional Cricketers Association Young Player of the Year for 2021 and 2022, as well as the Cricket Writer’s Club Young Cricketer of the Year in 2021. The International Cricket Council also recognised his talent, naming him World Player of the Month in December 2022 and February 2023.
Brook was nominated for the Freedom of the City by Bradford Council leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe in May 2023.
Inspiration beyond the boundary
Before the ceremony, the three men interacted with young cricketers from the Bradford District, taking part in cricket-focused activities organised by the Yorkshire Cricket Board.
Councillor Hinchcliffe said:
“Adil, Harry and Jonny have been selected not only because they are exceptional sportsmen but also outstanding role models for young people and communities right across the Bradford District.
“The Freedom of the City is a fitting accolade and mark of respect to reflect the admiration and pride they have inspired across the district – and indeed the country. And they join an impressive band of previous recipients of our city’s highest honour.”
This sentiment was echoed by the Lord Mayor of Bradford Cllr Gerry Barker, who commented that “Granting the Freedom of the City is a rare occurrence and this important honour recognises people who have made an important contribution in the city, district and country”.
A storied tradition of excellence
The Roll of Honorary Freemen of the City dates back to the late 19th century and embodies the essence of Bradford’s rich history. The first name admitted to the roll was that of Sir Henry Mitchell, a former mayor, philanthropist and mill owner. Since that time other famous Bradfordians such as JB Priestley (1973), Barbara Castle (1997) and David Hockney (2000) have been admitted to the roll. The most recent recipients were rugby league coach Brian Noble (2006), The 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2010) and Sir Ken Morrison CBE (also 2010).
The cricketing trio now join this impressive lineup, marking a new chapter in Bradford’s narrative as it celebrates the embodiment of dedication, talent, and community spirit.