EVERY single man and woman from St Helens who has ever served in the armed forces will made an honorary freeman of the borough tonight.
In an unprecedented move, St Helens Council will bestow the honour in recognition of sacrifice made by servicemen and women down the years.
Charities and former military personnel have hailed the gesture as a fitting and deserving honour.
Bryn Parry OBE, chief executive and co-founder of Help for Heroes, called St Helens Council’s decision “superb”.
“The great British public have always been fantastic supporters of our Armed Forces,” he added.
“St Helens Council choosing to recognise local Servicemen and women, in such a way is just superb.”
And Eric McMenamy, dad of war hero Stephen, who was injured serving in Iraq and is now a Beefeater, said veterans would be delighted with the honour, adding: “It’s a very worthwhile honour - and very deserving. It’s really great to give people a bit of recognition. Stephen will be made up, it’s a very nice thing for the council to do.”
Saints chairman Eamonn McManus will also be honoured for his tireless work to get the club into its new home.
Council leader Marie Rimmer said: “We realise this is a major departure from the norm but we couldn’t think of a better way of acknowledging the enormous debt owed to those who put their lives on the line for the country.”
Six other people will also receive the honour at tonight’s special council meeting
* Bill Ainscough and Langtree Group for services to the local economy
* Chris Baybutt for services to the economy and environment in St Helens
* David Baybutt for services to the economy and environment in St Helens
* Jean Mulford for services to the voluntary sector in St Helens
* Kirsty Pilkington for her work in the voluntary sector and in support of local arts
* Willowbrook Hospice - for services to the local community.
Willowbrook is only the second organisation to gain the accoldate. Saints were granted Freemen status in 2001.
After the passing of the council resolution, a newly admitted Freeman takes the appropriate Freeman’s Oath and signs the Freeman’s Roll - witnessed by the mayor and chief executive of the council.
A sealed and illuminated certificate of the grant of the Honorary Freedom, incorporating a copy of the formal resolution, is then presented to the newly appointed Honorary Freeman.
A official ceremony for the six individuals honours will be held in April with a special church service for the military honour will be held at the same time.