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Norwich freewoman plans to drive sheep through city

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:57 02 July 2010

Elizabeth Barber.

Elizabeth Barber.

Steve Downes

The teenage daughter of a Norfolk farmer will become one of the first freewomen of Norwich tomorrow - and is hatching a plan to drive her sheep through the city in the future.

The teenage daughter of a Norfolk farmer will become one of the first freewomen of Norwich tomorrow - and is hatching a plan to drive her sheep through the city in the future.

Elizabeth Barber, 18, will have the quirky right when she inherits the historic title at a ceremony at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich.

The head girl at Hethersett Old Hall School will be among scores of women receiving the honour as the successful climax of a decade-long campaign to allow women to inherit the title.

She will become a freewoman because her father, David Barber, from Cavick House Farm in Wymondham, is a freeman of Norwich - following in the footsteps of many generations of the same family.

Also receiving the honour will be her 26-year-old sister, Annabel.

If the campaign had not succeeded, Mr Barber - who has three daughters and no sons - would have been the last member of his family to hold the title.

Elizabeth, who is studying A-levels in philosophy and ethics, biology and geography and wants to be a children's nurse, said: “It's a great honour. I've always wanted to have the chance to follow in dad's footsteps and now that the rule has changed I'm finally able to carry on the family tradition.

“It's a privilege mainly, but it does give me the right to drive sheep through the centre of Norwich. We do have sheep at our farm, so we may do it one day.

“I want to use my title to publicise the right of women to be freewomen, and that would be a great way to do it.”

The fight to allow women to become freewomen began 10 years ago when Norwich grandmother and Commonwealth veterans fencing champion Connie Adams stood on the steps of City Hall waving a placard and protesting against the inequality.

Mrs Adams became disillusioned with the fight when it failed to get through parliament because the Iraq war took precedence and it was timed out.

She handed over the baton to Sue Howes, who campaigned with the help of North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

Legislation finally came into effect in January this year, saying: “where the son of a freeman of a city or town may claim to be admitted as a freeman of the place the daughter of a freeman may likewise claim to be so admitted”.

The Norwich freemen are an institution dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries and were originally connected with the development of the city government.

t For full coverage of the historic ceremony at St Andrew's Hall, don't miss Saturday's Evening News.

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