The life of Honorary Freeman John Collins was celebrated at a ceremony held at Cronton Sixth Form College last week. John, who was instrumental in the establishment of the College, was honoured by a plaque at its front entrance which was unveiled by his wife Rona and the Deputy Mayor Councillor Shaun Osborne.
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John, after gaining a first class honours degree in chemistry, was seconded to work at I.C.I. Widnes in 1943 on the secret Tube Alloy Project. He was elected to Widnes Borough Council in 1945; he worked tirelessly during his long political career to improve the quality of life for the people of Widnes and the environment of what was at the time one of the most blighted areas in the country. The projects which gave him most satisfaction were the Municipal Golf Course, the absence of towers blocks of flats, clean air and the reorganization of secondary education. He campaigned, against strong opposition, to establish Widnes Sixth Form College, now known as Cronton Sixth Form College.
John, who spent his entire career at I.C.I. until his retirement in 1981, continued to support the College as its Chairman of Governors for many years. He retired from politics in 1998.
The ceremony was attended by John’s wife, Rona Collins, College Principal, Mary Murphy, Councillor Tony McDermott, Chairman of Governors Alan Bennett and the Deputy Mayor of Halton, Councillor Shaun Osborne. Also present were a number of John’s family and friends and representatives of the college’s staff and students.
There were performances by the Cronton College Choir and by student Jack Austin on the grand piano which had been donated to the college by John’s family earlier this year.
Mary Murphy, College Principal, said “This is a wonderful event. It was interesting to learn from Rona of how John had fought for this college and to learn of the sixth form college in its early days and to meet some of the people who worked here then. She congratulated the choir and students on their wonderful performances. It had been a memorable day of celebration of the man who initiated this college of which we are all so proud.”