People travel across the globe to receive the freedom of Norwich

Freemen of Norwich ceremony at City Hall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Freemen of Norwich ceremony at City Hall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

People travelled from the other side of the world to become Freemen of Norwich.

Freemen of Norwich ceremony at City Hall. John Merry. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Freemen of Norwich ceremony at City Hall. John Merry. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The generational honour was bestowed on 32 men and women at a ceremony at City Hall.

Some people came from Europe and Canada to receive the honour yesterday.

John Merry flew thousands of miles with his wife, Jing Jiang, and children from their home in Canada especially for the occasion.

Mr Merry said: 'My family came from here and when we came to visit we stayed with my aunt on Blue Boar Lane. I asked my father how many generations have been freemen and he said 'too many to count'.

Freemen of Norwich ceremony at City Hall. Left to right, Jean Oliver, Steven Allen, Anthony Allen, K

Freemen of Norwich ceremony at City Hall. Left to right, Jean Oliver, Steven Allen, Anthony Allen, Katherine Allen and Christopher Allen.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

'I have always been interested in history and my family always told me stories about growing up in Norwich so it is great to be here. I hope my children follow in my footsteps.'

The 18 women and 14 men celebrated at the ceremony were aged between 18 and 77.

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The title that dates back to medieval times has been in some families for hundreds of years.

Anthony Allen, 67, originally from Earlham, became a Freeman in 1969, and yesterday watched his sister, daughter and two sons receive the honour.

It is something every generation of his family has taken part in since the 1700s.

He said: 'The ceremony was brilliant, absolutely superb. My eldest son had a brain tumour a few years ago and today both my sons and my daughter have become freemen – it is marvellous.'

The new members, Christopher Allen, 35; Steven Allen, 33; Katherine Allen, 25; and Jean Oliver, 59, joined their families and friends for pictures and refreshments following the ceremony.

Katherine said: 'It is good that women can become freemen now and I did it for my dad really as it is important to him. I was not sure what to expect for the ceremony but it has been really good.'

If you have a story about a local person receiving an honour, email jemma.walker@archant.co.uk