Great-grandmother, 90, made freeman of Durham

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A 90-year-old has ensured her family’s links to her home city are in the pipeline for generations to come after she was welcomed as a freeman.

Widow and great-grandmother Anne Pearson has been officially sworn in at a ceremony at Durham Town Hall, as she became a member of the Plumbers’ Company.

I have a son and two daughters and would very much like them to follow the family tradition.

Anne Pearson

It maintains her family’s long-standing connection with the City of Durham Freemen, as she follows in the footsteps of her grandfather, father, two brothers and brother-in-law.

“I have a son and two daughters and would very much like them to follow the family tradition,” said Anne, a retired civil servant who also has six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“Undergoing this ceremony will allow them to do that.”

Her father, Emmerson Heron, qualified for the freedom after completing his apprenticeship as a master plumber and brass finisher in the mid 1890s – following his own father, Henry.

Her brothers Harold, now deceased, and Leslie, who is in his 70s, also trod the same well-worn family path.

Anne worked at the National Savings Department in Durham between 1974 and 1990, while husband Stanley worked at the Hawthorn Coke Works in Murton.

He served for six years with the 4th Battalion the Border Regiment at the siege of Tobruk, in Lybia, and also in Syria, India, Burma, Norway and Germany during the Second World War.

Anne was welcomed into the Plumbers’ Company with two other newcomers, whose family’s links to the freemen stretch back more than a century.

The induction of sisters Maggi Davis, from Worcestershire, and Liz Cain, from Stockton, were watched by their mum Pat Billsborrow, 79, an ordained Methodist minister, who was among the first women to be admitted in 2012.

Changes in equality laws two years earlier swept away admission restrictions, ending nearly 700 years of all-male domination.

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