Tony gets his freedom

Published Wednesday, 13th August 2014
New York stadium
New York stadium

The Chairman of Rotherham's promotion-winning football team will gain the Freedom of the Borough this week.

At 11 am on Friday, August 15, Tony Stewart will be admitted as an Honorary Freeman of the Borough in recognition of his eminent service to the sport of football and his long and friendly association with the Rotherham Borough.

At a special ceremony being held at Rotherham Town Hall, the Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr John Foden, will present Tony with an illuminated address bearing the Coat of Arms commemorating his enrolment. He will also receive a pendant and will be asked to sign the Roll of Honorary Freemen.  

Tony is to be granted the award after members of Rotherham Borough Council approved a motion moved by the Leader, Cllr Roger Stone, at a council meeting in July.

Cllr Stone said that Rotherham was a town on the up and part of that journey has been mirrored by the amazing achievements of its football club.

He added: "It is true to say that none of this success would be happening without the innovation, determination and sheer hard work that Tony has put into this club. I am sure that every Millers fan will join with me in agreeing that Tony has raised this club to an exceptional standard."

Cllr Stone first approached the chairman of ASD Lighting Plc in early 2008. This was followed by six years of determination, dedication, controversy, vision and belief which has resulted in not only the homecoming of Rotherham United to the New York Stadium but also back-to-back promotions to the Championship League.

Rotherham United Football Club now employs over 100 people and brings a wealth of  benefits to the community and will contribute further wealth to the local economy with the future development of the remainder of the site.

Tony is the first to acknowledge that he could not have achieved all of this without the help and support of his directors and managers at both ASD Lighting and the football club.

The result is not bad for someone who as a youngster had a keen interest in athletics rather than football. Born in Sheffield and brought up in High Green with a twin brother and four other siblings, Mr. Stewart was a Yorkshire Champion for running the mile.

After leaving High Green School he undertook an apprenticeship as an electrician before starting his own electrical contracting business in 1972 employing 25 staff.

A decade later he saw a gap in the market for the manufacture of what was then security-related electrical equipment. Applied Security Design Ltd., now known as ASD Lighting Plc, became the first company in the world to integrate a passive infrared unit in a light fitting. Today the company employs over 200 staff and supplies innovative lighting solutions worldwide.

Tony has been married to Joan for 43 years. The couple have one son Richard, daughter-in-law Sam, and three grandchildren -  Olivia, Isabelle and Thomas.

If he has any spare time, Tony loves to fit in a round of golf and watch football.

There are now 15 Freemen of Rotherham along with the ship's company of HMS Rotherham and The Yorkshire Regiment, who have both also been conferred with the honour.

You are welcome to send a photographer to this event, which takes place at 11 am on Friday, August 15, at Rotherham Town Hall. But please note photographs will be taken at the end of the ceremony.