It's an honour to receive recognition of the years of service to the city and I am very pleased to have been asked

Lt Col Fraser Smith RMR

The Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court, Murray Craig, then presented the Reservists with a hand-written parchment copy of the Freedom certificate, together with the 18th-Century book Rules for the Conduct of Life written by Sir John Barnard.

The title of Freeman is believed to date back to 1237, when it allowed members of a guild or livery company to carry out their trade or craft within the square mile and also made them exempt from being press-ganged.

Nearly a millennium later and the Lord Mayor said he was proud to honour 21 "remarkable" individuals who had made an "absolutely extraordinary contribution" to the November parade.

"Fifty years ago, my father took me as a seven year old to the Lord Mayor's Show, where I saw history, pageantry, commitment, celebration and culture," he said.

"It was a catalyst for me which led to my career of 35 years in the City and enabled me the privilege to become the 690th Lord Mayor of London."

Lt Cdr Elizabeth Church from HMS President was among those honoured: "It has been a privilege and such a nice way of recognising what we have done with the Lord Mayor's Show."

Fellow Freeman Lt Col Fraser Smith RMR added: "It's an honour to receive recognition of the years of service to the city and I am very pleased to have been asked."

The title allows the holder to join the Guild of Freemen which brings together Freemen of the City for charitable, educational, social and benevolent activities to promote the interests of the City of London.

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