Freedom of the town honours awarded at special ceremony
- Credit: Mick Howes
An evening of firsts attracted a fine turnout as "incredible" honours were bestowed on two worthy recipients.
The Freedom of the Town was conferred for the first time as a mayor gave new civic robes their first official outing.
For the first time since its formation in 2017, Lowestoft Town Council conferred the title of Freedom of the Town to three recipients - with two Honorary Freeman Awards handed out last week.
With historian Chris Brooks receiving one of the awards in June, a special ceremony was held at the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club last Friday as the popular Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior LT472 and John Wylson - a founder member of the Excelsior Trust - received Freedom of the Town of Lowestoft honours from the Mayor of Lowestoft, Alan Green.
The mayor welcomed the guests who included Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Hugh Somerleyton, Keith Robinson, chairman of East Suffolk Council, Lowestoft town councillors, members of the Excelsior Trust, the vessel’s crew, and other supporters.
With the maritime sailing icon Excelsior, operated by The Excelsior Trust in Lowestoft, marking it's 100th anniversary this year there was a ceremonial cutting of a birthday cake on Excelsior’s deck to celebrate her centenary.
You may also want to watch:
The mayor said: “Since Lowestoft Town Council's formation in 2017 we have had many first times at doing things and tonight is no exception.
"This is the first time that the new mayoral robes are being worn.
- 1 Teen among two arrested in armed police incident
- 2 Jail for man who threatened to 'do a Raoul Moat' and kill police
- 3 Couple fear they will never sell home after A12 upgrade outside
- 4 Channel 4's Changing Rooms comes to Bury St Edmunds tonight
- 5 The stats which put Bonne top of the League One charts and firmly on course for a very rare Ipswich Town milestone
- 6 Villagers call to stop 'hazardous' 5-week road closure with huge diversions
- 7 Suffolk coast named one of top UK destinations for autumn
- 8 Things to do in Suffolk this weekend with friends and family
- 9 'We have formed a successful partnership' - Morsy on his Evans reunion
- 10 Burgers, Wings and Ribs comes to Stowmarket
"The town council commissioned the robes that I am wearing with a brief that they will be unique whilst keeping in the civic tradition and truly reflect our special town.
"What could be more appropriate as I stand here near Excelsior as the new gown portrays our town’s most easterly position, the blue of our sea and the image of a sailing smack hand embroidered in gold on the sleeve.
"And there is another first this evening – this is the first time that LTC has conferred the title of freedom of the town.
"The town council does not take making an award lightly."
Referring to the first recipient of the award, he said: “Mr John Wylson is a chartered accountant and a sailor and was nominated by the Excelsior Trust for his enthusiasm which has been of immense value to traditional shipbuilding in East Anglia and in particular Lowestoft.
"John first brought the boat back to Lowestoft from Norway in 1972 and began her reconstruction.
"After 50 years this has been a lifetimes work.
"It is my honour to confer on him the honour of Freedom of the Town.”
Mr Wylson replied by giving thanks for "this incredible honour", adding: "It is somewhat embarrassing to be singled out in this way, because if ever there were a community project this is it.
"There are a number of people and groups without whom this smack would never have been restored - let alone reach the grand old age of 100.
"Without the ongoing support of countless individuals, numerous local companies and organisations, and the incredibly supportive grant-giving Trusts, Excelsior would never have been completed and maintained to the standard of authenticity for which she is now well known."
The mayor added: “The second award is for the Excelsior herself, nominated by the Excelsior Trust.
"Excelsior marked her centenary in 2021 and the title is awarded to mark a unique status as being the last authentic Lowestoft smack in the country which is recognised by the National Maritime Museum.
"Since her recommissioning Excelsior has taken nearly 10,000 often disadvantaged young people to sea.
"Of course, the town applauds the Excelsior’s contributions to our maritime heritage and tourist economy but the fact that she has also enriched the lives of so many people of this town demonstrates how deserved this award is.
"To the Excelsior it is my honour to proffer the title of the freedom of the town of Lowestoft - in doing so I present this award to members of the crew."