Date finally found for Tim Peake’s Freedom ceremony

The city council is now waiting for confirmation from ESA to fix the date. Image: Peter Langdown
The city council is now waiting for confirmation from ESA to fix the date. Image: Peter Langdown

A date for astronaut Tim Peake’s Freedom of the City ceremony has finally been found, Chichester City Council hopes.

Giving an update on the long-running saga at Wednesday’s meeting, clerk Rodney Duggua said: “When I came back into the (council) building on Friday lunchtime I took a phone call from the European Space Agency, who offered me a date for the ceremony of Sunday, February 25.

“The next thing I did was to contact Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT), because we can’t ignore the issue that it will be a big public event.

“The festival theatre confirmed today, that Sunday, February 25, is a date convenient to them.

“So I’ve gone back to ESA to say will you now double confirm this, because we’ve had dates offered and then been told Tim Peake can’t be there.

“And also set out your stall about what your requirements are on the day.”

Mr Duggua said he would be taking a draft programme for the day to CFT bosses next Tuesday.

He said the day would include a ceremony where the keys to the city are handed to Major Peake, who would then give a briefing on his six-month space mission.

Adding it would most likely happen in the early afternoon, Mr Duggua said: “We do have a date and we are almost, almost pressing the go button.”

Chichester resident Edward Milward-Oliver, who first suggested Major Peake should be bestowed the highest city council honour in February 2016, told the meeting: “I’m delighted to hear the developments and I think it will be a great occasion.

Chichester Mayor Peter Evans added: “It will be a great occasion, a little bit overdue but I think we can make Chichester shine.”

The meeting was due to hear Mr Duggua read some of the five-page report he had prepared on the council’s efforts to fix a date for the Freedom event.

Major Peake grew up in Westbourne and went to Chichester High School.