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Chance to become next freemen of Norwich

Connie Adam - who fought for the right of women to become freemen of Norwich

Connie Adam - who fought for the right of women to become freemen of Norwich

A grandmother who battled to allow women like her to become freemen of the city of Norwich has urged others to follow her lead.

Norwich City Council this week invited direct male and female descendants of freemen of the city to get their applications in to have the honour bestowed on them, joining about 900 who already have the status.

The ancient honour dates back to medieval times when freemen were the governing body of the city and were given trading rights not permitted to ordinary residents. As the centuries have passed, most of the ancient rights and privileges have disappeared, but the freedom right still passes down from parent to child by right of birth.

And Connie Adam, 83, who led a long campaign calling for women to be allowed to take up the title, said people should get their applications in. She was made a freeman of the city last year, which was the first year that women were allowed to follow in their fathers’ footsteps.

Mrs Adam, who lives in The Avenues in Norwich, started a campaign more than a decade ago when she stood on the steps of City Hall waving a placard and protesting about the inequality. The grandmother-of-four qualified for the title through her father, Walter Burrowes, and was incensed that outdated rules meant it could not be passed to women. She said: “I thought it was about time to do something about it because of the inequality. My father and grandfather had been freemen and I didn’t want it to stop with me.

The Commonwealth veterans fencing champion said: “Them saying no so many times was like a red rag to a bull and I am very pleased it was changed.

“It is an honour, although I can’t imagine I will be carrying my sword unsheathed through the city centre, which is something I’m allowed to do now!

“I think women who are eligible should apply to take it up. While I haven’t taken them up, there some grants which are available to freemen which could be useful for younger women.”

Mike Quinton, from the Norwich Town Close Estate Charity, which provides help to freemen and their families, said means-tested educational grants and pensions were available to eligible freemen.

There will be three ceremonies this year where the direct descendants of freemen will be honoured at traditional Freemen’s Courts on March 18, July 22 and October 28. Further details and application forms are available from Linda Lindores. People can write to her in the civic office, Norwich City Council, City Hall, Norwich, NR2 1NH, call her on 01603 212078 or email her at civicoffice@norwich.gov.uk.

Applications for all three courts should be submitted by qualified people no later than February 18, with the admission fee of £50.

Are you pleased Norwich still has freemen of the city? Or do you have a view on women getting the right to take up the title? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE, or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

Are you entitled to have the Freedom of the City? See Sheriff’s Diary on p48.

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