Glasgow & West Scotland

Billy Connolly 'thrilled' to receive Freedom of Glasgow award

Scots comedian Billy Connolly said he was thrilled to receive the Freedom of the City of Glasgow.

Connolly, who is one of the city's most famous sons, received the honour at the city chambers on Friday night.

Known affectionately as "The Big Yin", Connolly's career in comedy, films and TV, spans more than 30 years.

Lord Provost Bob Winter led calls for the city to recognise the performer for his contribution to comedy, film, music and his charity work.

Mr Winter said: "Billy Connolly is arguably the world's best-known Glaswegian and is truly deserving of the Freedom of the City.

"He has presented himself as a proud citizen of the City of Glasgow. In doing so he has shown the world the unique humour, generosity and resilience of Glaswegians."

As he received the honour at the city chambers on Friday evening, he said: "This has taken my breath away.

"I am completely blown away. I am thrilled and I can't really put into words how I feel about it."

Connolly added: "Apparently I have to defend Glasgow if called to, which I am perfectly prepared to do and which I have done on many, many occasions in the past.

"But if I commit a crime and am flung in jail, I am entitled to a cell of my own, which I would like more than anything in the world."

'Eminent service'

Congratulatory messages from past recipients including Nelson Mandela, Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish were read out at the ceremony.

Sir Alex, who was made a Freeman in 1999, said: "It is a great honour to receive the Freedom of the City and I wish to congratulate Billy on his wonderful achievement.

"To be given such a prestigious award from your home town is an absolute privilege and I wish you an enjoyable and memorable day."

Dalglish, who received the honour in 1986, said: "Dear Billy, I would like to congratulate you on receiving the Freedom of the City of Glasgow. I am sure that this recognition means an awful lot to you, it certainly means a lot to myself.

"Like yourself, I am very proud to have been born and brought up in Glasgow.

"I am still looking forward to grazing my sheep on Glasgow Green and am still waiting to hang up my washing in George Square."

Broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson also sent his best wishes to Connolly.

The comedian's appearances on the presenter's prime time chat show in the 1970s sent his popularity soaring.

The Freedom of the City is an honour which can be given to "persons of distinction or persons who have rendered eminent service to the city".

The ceremony was attended by Connolly's wife Pamela Stephenson and their daughter Scarlett.

The family were joined on the top table by two current Freemen, former world boxing champion Jim Watt and Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden.

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