THREE generations of one family with strong links to the city have become Freemen of the City of York at an historic ceremony.

The Freedom of the City of York is an honour which dates back to the 13th Century, and is now granted by City of York Council.

Once a year, the council holds a Freedom Court in the Guildhall, when the Lord Mayor and the Gild of Freemen bestow the honour.

Last week, a special ceremony was held for the Ward family to coincide with their family reunion at the Elmbank Hotel, The Mount, with about 70 members of the family, from as far away as Berkshire, Hampshire and London in attendance.

They were all relatives of Walter Ward, a Freeman of York, who owned a glass and china business in Micklegate.

Peter Raeburn-Ward, who lives in Reading, was among members of the family given the same honour in 1980, and was proud to see his children Charlotte, Simon and James made Freemen.

He said: “It is a particularly poignant ceremony for us, because Harry Ward, Walter’s son, our uncle and Fiona’s great uncle, was president and founder of the Freemen of England, and a former Master of the York Gild.

“Harry battled tirelessly to maintain the traditions and the rights of Freemen and it was through him that female descendants of Freemen had the same rights.

“The family are very grateful to the excellent support of Joanne Lowe of electoral services at City of York Council, who has been a tower of strength in organising the administration of the ceremony, and to the Lord Mayor, Master of the Gild of Freemen and the Clerk who have given up their weekend to make the special freedom court possible.”

As part of the ceremony, the Lord Mayor Keith Hymen presented each applicant with a certificate.

The following people were made Freemen of the City: Helen Pedder, 54, of Islington; Martin Pedder, 53, of Bury; Clare Pedder, 49, of Long Ditton; Elizabeth Scarborough (nee Pedder), 44, of Newbury; John Ward, 50, of York; Victoria Ward, 26, of York; Chantal Ward, 21, of York; Michael Garbutt, 72, of Birmingham; Allen Mills, 76, of Oxford; Charlotte Fripp, 41, of St Agnes; Simon Raeburn-Ward, 39, of Reading; James Raeburn-Ward, 27, of London; Jenifer Harding, 68, of Hythe; Sarah Lusty, 42, of Fulham; Matthew Harding, 41, of Richmond; Lucy Hurfurd, 39, of Surrey; Sophie Nicholls, 33, of Winchester; Nicholas Raeburn-Ward, 40, of South Croydon; Samantha King-Smith, 36, of West Wickham; Andrew Ward, 46, of Leeds; Russell Ward, 45, of Bramhall.