Dame Julie Kenny DBE has been made a Honorary Freewoman of the Borough of Rotherham.
Whilst a virtual ceremony may not have the pomp and circumstance of a usual official ceremony at the Town Hall, it is nonetheless, the ultimate accolade that the Rotherham Borough can bestow on one of its citizens.
In 2019 the self-made Rotherham businesswoman becomes a Dame Commander of the British Empire, the second-highest honour in the land, for her crucial role in securing the future of the Wentworth Woodhouse.
The Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr Jenny Andrews, said: “Awards are not just for a job well done, they are awarded because an individual has “gone the extra mile” in the contribution they have made or stand out head and shoulders above others in what they achieved.
“Dame Julie has throughout her career achieved benefits for our town in a way that has brought distinction to borough life and helped improve the lives of those less able to help themselves, whilst demonstrating inspirational innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Sarah McLeod, CEO of Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT), discussed Julie’s work to secure the mansion for the area.
Sarah said: “Yes, she thought Wentworth Woodhouse was a wonderful piece of architecture and a fantastic building, but really, the real reason Julie did that was because she understood absolutely what an important asset it would be for Rotherham, in terms of creating jobs and training and providing opportunities for people that lived in the area. That is what Julie is all about really. She is absolutely passionate about Rotherham and she’s incredibly proud of Rotherham and its people and I know that is what motivates her to really make Wentworth a success.”
Leaving her Sheffield home at 18, Julie travelled to the opposite end of the country and found a job as a junior secretary in a Cornish law firm. Ten years of part time study led to the second career as a lawyer.
Returning to South Yorkshire with a belief in a new security system, Julie set up Pyronix with her husband in 1986. Becoming a single mother of three on the break-up of her marriage, she grew Pyronix, which is still based at Hellaby, into an award-winning organisation supplying 65 countries. When she sold the company in 2016 its turnover was £25m. She was awarded a CBE in 2002 for her services to industry in Yorkshire and Humberside.
Other roles include being the chair of the first academy school in Rotherham at Maltby, taking a commisioner role at Rotherham Council and being a High Sherriff for South Yorkshire.
Previous recipients given the freedom of the borough include local businessman and chairman of Rotherham United, Tony Stewart and World Cup referee, Howard Webb.