Coventry Cathedral was the illustrious venue to bestow the historic Freemen of the City on Mr Ratan Tata, owner of Jaguar Land Rover and Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Founder of Warwick Manufacturing Group.
The Leader and Chief Executive of the Council hosted the event and the Lord Mayor Michael Hammon witnessed the signing of the oaths by Ratan and Kumar, only the 14th and 15th people to have the honour of Freemen of the City bestowed upon them.
Both men spoke of their pride in being accepted into the city’s freemen and spoke of the value of Coventry as a home of innovation and manufacturing over years gone by and into a prosperous future.
Ratan Tata told of his introduction by his old friend Lord Bhattacharyya to the best kept secret in the UK – Coventry – and the Jaguar and Land Rover company. He went on to say that following the successful rebirth of the company the city is no longer a secret, but the best location in the UK, to be celebrated as it looks to the future.
Mr Tata put the success of JLR down to the CEO Dr Ralph Speth, his team and every skilled and innovative person who works in the company. Lord Bhattacharyya echoed Mr Tata’s belief in Coventry as a city where challenges are accepted and the renewal of the past inspires a future built on integrated research and industrial expertise.
Of course the two freemen were driven to the Guildhall for lunch in a Jag.
But no ordinary Jag it was the Queen Mother’s car.
The Lord Mayor presented cut crystal bowls to the two new freemen and posed for photographs under original Lady Godiva Painting and Sculpture.
It was an opportunity for friends and colleagues to celebrate, meet and discuss the new Freemen’s immense contribution to Coventry’s past present and future including the Indian High Commissioner, JLR CEO Dr Ralph Speth, Vice Lord Lieutenant and Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth.
A celebratory lunch was enjoyed by many people from JLR, Warwick Manufacturing Group and the City Council.
Appropriately the soundtrack to the lunch was from a local sitar player Havinder Kaur Lall who uses her mobile app to follow the beats.
A portfolio of photographs from the Ceremony is here:
© Copyright Mark Radford