Barking volunteer granted ancient privilege

PUBLISHED: 10:59 12 May 2015 | UPDATED: 12:22 12 May 2015

Emdad Rahman has been awarded Freedom of the City of London.

Emdad Rahman has been awarded Freedom of the City of London.


A Barking resident has been awarded a medieval honour stretching back 800 years.

Emdad Rahman, who turned 39 this week, was granted Freedom of the City of London at a ceremony in Guildhall, after he was recognised for his outstanding voluntary work.

The Aldersey Gardens resident, whose volunteering includes working at Tower Hamlets Foodbank, soup kitchens for the homeless and football coaching, said the ceremony, complete with top hats and frocks, was “completely surreal”.

“I’m just a working class lad, my parents are from Bangladesh,” the dad-of-three told the Post.

“For me to receive recognition is amazing, it’s hard to believe.”

The ancient privilege was first awarded in 1237 to recognise the rights of a person who was not owned by a feudal lord, and from the middle ages and the Victorian era, the Freedom granted its recipients the right to trade.

Nowadays the rights granted by the Freedom are more symbolic than practical.

“I can draw my sword in public, and if I was to be hung, I could choose soft silk rather than rough rope,” Mr Rahman explained.

“I can also walk a sheep across London Bridge, though TfL may not be happy about it.”

Mr Rahman is not interested in the fancy balls that are linked to Guild membership, but hopes he can use the recognition to inspire youngsters to volunteer too.

“It’s always nice to feel recognised. There are millions of people who are volunteering and doing better things than me, but I got lucky.

“This has given me a real boost, it’s upped my game and now I want to get young people more involved in volunteering. You don’t have to drop everything, you can take five minutes out and make a real difference.”

Click here to find out more about the Freedom.

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