IT is the highest honour that the borough can bestow, with an illustrious list of names stretching back to the 1700s.

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And now two more groups have taken their place in history by being granted freedom of the borough - 901 Troop marine cadets and the Yarmouth branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL).

The honour used to grant people the right to herd sheep through the market place and allow them to graze on common land.

But this year’s elite will settle for permission to march through the borough, a grand ceremony at St Nicholas Minster to present them with scrolls and their names engraved on a town hall plaque.

The two groups were chosen for freedom of the borough at a full council meeting on Tuesday, after a nominations process.

Trevor Wainwright, leader of the council, said: “They both do a remarkable job for the borough. The Royal British Legion has been serving the borough for 60 years and the marine cadets are the future.”

And both groups said they were surprised and overjoyed to have been chosen.

Paul Williams, chairman of the RBL’s Yarmouth branch, said: “I was honoured and humbled when I first heard the news. To the best of our belief it’s the first time nationally that a branch has been awarded freedom of the borough.

“We owe so much to the residents of Yarmouth for their support, and are grateful for this recognition.”

Under the stewardship of Paul and his wife Irene, the group has more than doubled in size from 33 members in 2009 to more than 70 now.

They have raised many hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years - including more than £30,000 from last year’s Poppy Appeal - and are currently setting up the Poppy Shop to open at 27/28 Victoria Arcade from Monday, October 15.

Paul Dodson, commanding officer of 901 Troop marine cadets, said the 36 cadets in the unit were “speechless” when they learned they had earned freedom of the borough.

“I was really overjoyed and honoured that the borough council has chosen to recognise the efforts of the cadets in the unit,” he said. “The unit as a whole does an awful lot for the borough.”

Winterton-based 901 Troop takes its name from the month of its formation - September 2001 - and youngsters aged 11 to 18 continue to meet at Flegg High School.

And they have had an “outstanding” year, being asked to perform at a D-Day service in Normandy, France and performing a guard of honour when Prince Charles visited the borough.

Both groups will be honoured with a parade from the town hall to St Nicholas Minster on Friday, November 2.

The service will be open to the public, with details in the Mercury in coming weeks.

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