Dr Desmond Murphy receives the Freedom of the Isle of Wight.

A doctor who was instrumental in the establishment and development of the Isle of Wight’s Mountbatten Hospice has been presented with the Freedom of the Isle of Wight tonight (Wednesday).

Dr Desmond Murphy was given the honour by chair of the Isle of Wight Council Lora Peacey-Wilcox at an extra-ordinary meeting held in Newport.

The retired respiratory consultant physician moved to the Island in 1981 and just a year later, was tasked with overseeing the clinical leadership of the hospice. He took on the role and since then has overseen its expansion into the vital facility it is today.

Listen: Dr Desmond Murphy explains how he got involved with the Island’s Mountbatten Hospice.

Family, friends and former colleagues gathered at County Hall this evening to pay homage to Dr Murphy for his work over the years.

All 28 councillors in attendance voted in favour of acknowledging his achievements.

Councillor Michael Murwill, who nominated Dr Murphy for the honour, said:

“We cannot underestimate the importance of Dr Murphy’s work. His values and determination to provide a service and end of life care on the Island is something we still carry around today. It is an honour for me to nominate Dr Desmond Murphy for the Freedom of the Isle of Wight. I would like to to offer my thanks and congratulations. You should be very proud of it.”

He now joins the likes of Oscar-winning film director Anthony Minghella, record-breaking yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur, Hovertravel founder Christopher Bland, and pioneering aviator Mary Ellis in receiving the honour.

Council leader Councillor Dave Stewart thanked Dr Murphy for his services – while also joking about the benefits holding the Freedom of the Isle of Wight boasts:

“I would like to thank Dr Desmond for all he has done. You spearheaded the need for the hospice and played a pivotal role in it.”

“I’m not sure whether the Freedom of the Isle of Wight entitles you to unusual discounts. I don’t know whether you can drive sheep through Newport High Street. I’m not even sure you can travel free on the Floating Bridge! But, it does stand you in good stead.”

Dr Murphy’s other work within the Island’s community was also praised during the meeting.

Councillors voted unanimously to approve Dr Murphy’s Freedom of the Isle of Wight honour.

Councillor Adrian Axford pointed out his contribution towards local football team Ryde Saints:

“Every week more than 150 club footballers play in nine teams from under seven to under 16 and Desmond himself is still refereeing games in his 70s!”

Speaking exclusively to Isle of Wight Radio after the presentation, Dr Murphy said he is delighted:

“I’m slightly surprised because it was such a big turn out, because it was so formal, because so many councillors spoke so positively in relation to the award. It all kind of took me back a little bit. Obviously it was very nice and was lovely to have my close friends and family here to hear those things but it was a bit of a surprise.”