Freedom of the City awarded to devoted Syd

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IT’S a prestigious honour that only a few people in Portsmouth have been awarded.

And now former Portsmouth North MP Syd Rapson, pictured, can count himself among the honoured few to have been presented with the Freedom of the City.

The accolade, which was last handed to former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp and the side who won the FA Cup in 2008, is in recognition of Mr Rapson’s community work and outstanding conduct since leaving office.

City council boss Donna Jones praised the him for his devotion to city life, saying Mr Rapson came to every council meeting even after retiring.

Speaking of Syd’s character, Cllr Jones added: ‘His heart is right in the centre of this city. He cares about Portsmouth.’

The award is the highest civic accolade that can be presented.

It arises from a medieval practice granting respected citizens freedom from slavery – and while the title does not come with special privileges today, the tradition of crowning someone a freeman or an organisation of freemen lives on.

Mr Rapson is a life-long member of the Labour Party and was first elected to the city council in 1971.

During his time on the council played a key role in supporting Portsmouth.

Labour leader John Ferret said Mr Rapson had been ‘instrumental’ in saving the ferry port from being sold off.

‘That decision has resulted in millions of pounds year on year being fed back into the city’s coffers,’ he added.

Mr Rapson was an MP until he retired in 2005.