Freedom for Sally Wainwright

Anne Lister, played by Suranne Jones, and Ann Walker, played by Sophie Rundle

Sally Wainwright will become a Freewoman of the Borough of Calderdale if the proposal is approved by Councillors at the next full Council meeting.  

The nomination is being made by Robin Tuddenham, the Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the borough.    

The BAFTA award winning writer has delighted audiences with Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax, bringing the beauty and character of Calderdale to the nation’s TV screens since 2012, and promoted Calderdale to a wider audience. 

But it is the screening of the acclaimed HBO/BBC Gentleman Jack series, which tells the remarkable story of Anne Lister, which has placed Halifax firmly on the international stage. The series has brought Calderdale to global attention, boosting visitor numbers to Shibden Hall and Halifax, bringing millions of pounds into the local economy.  

Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, Robin Tuddenham said: 

“I can’t think of another individual who has so steadfastly championed Calderdale. I am proud to nominate Sally for this, the highest honour which we as a borough can award. Sally’s work has shared the places that we know and love with a global audience and the response has been phenomenal. 

“As someone with such an outstanding reputation for producing high quality, award winning dramas, Sally is very modest about her achievements – I don’t think she fully realises what an impact she has had here and just how deeply people have been touched by her work around the world.  

“The Gentleman Jack series in particular demonstrates what’s so distinctive and unique about Calderdale and echoes our Vision2024 values.  There’s been a definite ‘Gentleman Jack’ effect thanks to Sally.”   

Visitor numbers to Shibden have trebled since the estate featured in Gentleman Jack, whilst visits to Bankfield Museum in Halifax, where costumes from the series are on display, have almost trebled.  

Local businesses, museums, hotels, events and attractions have all reported an increase in income and there’s been a notable growth in the number of American and Canadian visitors since the series aired in the spring.   

The nomination will be considered on Wednesday 20 November 2019.   

If the proposal is granted, a special ceremony will be held in March 2020 during which the Mayor of Calderdale, Cllr Dot Foster, will present Sally with the Honorary Freedom scroll and will invite her to sign the Honorary Freedom roll of honour. 

Should Sally wish, then consideration would also be given to allowing her to herd sheep through the centre of Halifax; why we’re not so sure but it seems to be something that is always mentioned! 

Sally’s name will also be inscribed on the Honorary Freedom plaque within the Victoria Hall of Halifax Town Hall. 

Hannah Cockroft was the last recipient of the Freedom of the Borough in 2012, following her exceptional performance in the London Paralympics, where she won two gold medals. 

Our Vision2024 is for Calderdale to be a place where people can reach their potential, where talent and enterprise can thrive, where people care for each other and are able to bounce back, and a place that stands out as a great destination to visit and where people can live a larger life.  

The year 2024 marks Calderdale’s 50th birthday. Where do we want to be by 2024? Join in the conversation on Twitter using #VisionCdale2024 and visit

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