Let's salute the Freemen of the Borough!

BRAVE soldiers, pillars of the community and a football legend have received the borough s highest honour. Five recipients were awarded the Freedom of the Borough last week at The Broadway, Barking. The title of Freeman is ceremonial and does not give th

BRAVE soldiers, pillars of the community and a football legend have received the borough's highest honour.

Five recipients were awarded the Freedom of the Borough last week at The Broadway, Barking.

The title of Freeman is ceremonial and does not give the recipient any special privileges - except in the case of the Royal Anglian Regiment - who can now march through the borough with fixed bayonets and colours flying.

It is hoped they will exercise this right in July when troops end a tour of Afghanistan.


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The family of Private Tony Rawson, who was killed serving his country with the Royal Anglians, attended the ceremony.

Council leader Cllr Liam Smith said: "It is with great pride that we recognise the contribution made to the community by the regiment and all the other recipients of the honorary freedom of the Borough.

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"They are all very special people. And they are all great ambassadors for the borough of Barking and Dagenham."

General Sir John McColl, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, accepted the Freedom of the Borough on behalf of the regiment and also presented the Crest of the Regiment to Mayor Cllr Charles Fairbrass and council chief executive Rob Whiteman.

Gen. McColl said: "The Royal Anglians have strong links to this area which has always provided us with great support.

"That is extremely important to young men and women who are far from home."

Also receiving the Freedom of the Borough was Sir Trevor Brooking CBE. Capped 47 times, one of West Ham United Football Club's favourite sons, he received his award for his contribution to sport.

Mr Whiteman spoke in support of Sir Trevor 's nomination and wore a West Ham United scarf to give his address. Sir Trevor, who was born and grew up in Barking, said his rise to stardom as a footballer was due to the fantastic schools and sports facilities in his home borough.

Another knight was awarded the borough's highest honour for his service, dedication and support to education.

Sir Paul Grant, who has transformed Robert Clack School into one of the best in the country, was introduced by Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, who described him as "a bit of a hero of mine".

Sir Paul said: "The children, parents, teachers and council have proved that great things are possible here. Robert Clack would not be the school it is today without them and I am proud to be a part of this community."

Cllr Jeanne Alexander spoke in support of Cllr Mohammed Fani, for his service to the community, including 20 years as a member for Abbey Ward.

Former director of Barking and Dagenham children's services, Roger Luxton OBE, who retired last year, was recognised for his service, dedication and support to education and children's services in the borough.

He was unable to attend the ceremony due to illness and his son, Simon, collected the honour on his behalf.

Vera Reynolds, recipient of the People's Award - voted for by residents - was recognised for her voluntary service to the local community, including over 40 years with the Girls Brigade.

She said: "Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me over the years. And thank you to everyone who voted for me.

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