Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rewarded with the Freedom of Town; Honour for MP, Entrepreneur, Heateacher and Author

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rewarded with the Freedom of Town; Honour for MP, Entrepreneur, Heateacher and Author

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Glover

SIR John Hall and his wife Lady Mae were awarded the Freedom of Gateshead yesterday in recognition of their services to the borough.

The Halls were honoured during a ceremony at the Shipley Art Gallery for their services to retail, regeneration, business and leisure.

Also receiving the town's top honour were former Tyne Bridge MP David Clelland, children's author David Almond and community worker Ezriel Salomon.

Sir John said it was "fabulous" that his wife had been bestowed as she "thoroughly deserved it".

He said: "I have received lots of awards in my time and Mae has been there as my shoulder and my shadow every step of the way."

"Without her I would never have achieved what I have.

The former Newcastle United chairman created Europe's biggest indoor shopping centre when he built the Metrocentre in 1986. Lady Mae grew up in Gateshead having moved there aged one. The Halls were married in 1956.

Lady Mae said: "Today is a very special day for me. Building the Metrocentre was a lot of hard work but the night before it opened John said to me 'the people of the North East will come here in their thousands'.

The leader of Gateshead Council Coun Mick Henry said the complex now had a working population of 7,000 and attracted 23 million yearly visitors. The Metrocentre celebrates its 25th anniversary later this year.

Coun Henry said: "The couple's passion and pride for Gateshead and the North East is evident.

"Sir John has had a massive impact on sport in the region taking Newcastle United into the Premier League and Europe. "He redeveloped St James' Park into one of the finest stadiums in Europe."

Sir John was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year and Coun Henry said the tycoon would not have been able to approach his diagnosis with as much determination if it was not for the support of Lady Mae and his family.

Coun Henry said: "They have achieved more together than they would have apart and they have both helped to put Gateshead on the map. …

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