Lighting expert given Freedom of London

Lighting company owner Peter McVeigh has the right to drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge, after being awarded Freedom of the City of London.

Peter McVeigh is awarded the Freedom of LondonPeter McVeigh, owner of Status International Limited, was handed the honour in recognition of his 50 years of work in the lighting industry.

Mr McVeigh was granted the award at an intimate ceremony in the Chamberlain’s Court at Guildhall on Friday October 18.

Mr McVeigh formed his first lighting company De La Mer, in 1975. He sold the firm 13 years later and founded his current business with his son, Nicholas, in 1991. The company is now a multi-million sales firm, selling lamps to many major retailers in the country.

Mr McVeigh sits on the technical committee for the lighting industry and is director and council member of the Lighting Industry Assocation.

The freedom of the City dates back to 1237 and is offered to individuals to celebrate a significant achievement. The medieval term ‘freeman’ meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. Town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often free – hence the term ‘freedom of the City.

From the Middle Ages and through to the Victorian era, the Freedom was the right to trade, enabling members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft in the London City square mile. A fee or fine would be charged and in return the Livery Companies would ensure that the goods and services provided would be of the highest possible standards. In 1835, the Freedom was widened to incorporate not just members of Livery Companies but also people living or working in the City or where there was a strong London connection.

Among the other traditions the honour allows, Mr McVeigh can carry a sword in public and, if found drunk and incapable by police, will be sent home in a taxi rather than be arrested.

Other recent recipients of the honour include Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Florence Nightingale, Sir  Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, author JK Rowling, Sir Bob Geldof and London 2012 Paralympian David Weir.

06 Nov