Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney ‘luckiest guys on earth’ as they accept Freedom of Wrexham
Rory Sheehan, local democracy reporter
Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds has described himself and Rob McElhenney as “the luckiest guys on earth” in accepting the Freedom of Wrexham at a full council meeting
Councillors voted to confer the freedom of the borough on the owners of Wrexham AFC in recognition of the club’s long and proud history, and the impact the two owners have had in helping to promote Wrexham across the world since they purchasing the football club two years ago.
Appearing at the meeting via Zoom to accept the honour on behalf of the duo, Ryan Reynolds said: “I’m going to try not to be too emotional here.
“We are impossibly grateful for this honour from the council. Wrexham is home to one of the most beautiful stories on earth and I recognise that this is to honour our contribution but I’d also say that the reverse holds true with this town, what it’s given us is immeasurable.
“What it’s given Wales and the rest of the world is immeasurable. Rob and I walked with a pretty crazy idea a few years ago and Wrexham ran with that idea.
“Our goal is now and has always been to uphold the values of the community and this club.”
He added: “None of this works without you and the people of Wrexham, the players of this team, the ground staff, the Racecourse, everyone who makes this work in each and every nook and cranny of Wrexham, many of whom we now consider very close friends.
“We’re amplifying something that is really already there.
“We’re shining a light on something that is already quite perfect, unique and special and ‘Wrexham is the name’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s a globally recognised honour and our goal is to keep growing Wrexham in the hearts and minds of folks all over the planet.
“I think I can safely speak from Rob when I say that we consider ourselves genuinely the luckiest guys on earth. Thank you for welcoming us into your homes and your special community.
“We’re eternally grateful – diolch.”
Introduced by the Mayor Cllr Brian Cameron, leader of the council, Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard (Ind) explained the reason for proposing the honour.
He said: “Football is the beating heart of the community and there has always been incredible pride, passion and support for the football club.
“We have an amazing story here in Wrexham.
“These two Hollywood stars have had an incredible impact on both the football club and the community, and have helped catapult Wrexham onto the world stage.”
Opposition group leaders Ruabon Cllr Dana Davies (Labour) and Grosvenor Cllr Marc Jones (Plaid Cymru) both welcomed the move.
Cllr Davies said she was glad Wrexham Supporters Trust had been recognised for keeping the club alive prior to Ryan and Rob’s arrival, and Cllr Jones said recognition from the council for the club and its fans was long overdue.
There was controversy last month when the proposal was mooted at the council’s Independent and Conservative coalition-led executive board.
Conservative group leader, Rossett Cllr Hugh Jones spoke out against giving the famous duo the civic honour, referencing a widely-reported social media post by Wrexham striker Paul Mullin featuring football boots which contained the slogan ‘**** the Tories’.
He described it as a “message of hate”, and also criticised one of the co-owners for liking the post on Instagram.
But Cllr Jones was not present at the meeting held in the council chamber at the Guildhall, having given his apologies beforehand.
‘Given their lives’
Bryn Cefn Cllr Beverley Parry-Jones, a fellow Conservative, spoke on behalf of the group and questioned the timing of the award, asking whether there were more worthy recipients from the club’s history.
She said: “We are not against Wrexham AFC and their new owners Rob and Ryan having the freedom of the borough.
“But we do ask is it the right time?”
Cllr Parry-Jones suggested club legends such as Arfon Griffiths, Joey Jones and Gareth Davies who had “given their lives to Wrexham AFC” were worthy of consideration.
She also suggested the Royal Naval Association, as the only association in the Armed Forces without Freedom of Wrexham recognition, be considered for it in the future.
Out of the 48 councillors who attended the meeting, 46 voted for the award while there were two abstentions. The honour will be given at a ceremony next year.
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