Freedom of the Town honours bestowed on trio - including historic boat

Sailing icon Excelsior LT472 has been awarded ‘Freedom of The Town of Lowestoft’ honour.

Sailing icon Excelsior LT472 has been awarded ‘Freedom of The Town of Lowestoft’ honour. - Credit: Rob Howarth Photography

It is one of the nation’s most important historic ships.

And the popular Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior was celebrating this week after receiving a special double honour, normally reserved for people.

For the first time since its formation in 2017, Lowestoft Town Council has conferred the title of Freedom of the Town to three recipients - with Honorary Freeman Awards set to be awarded later this summer.

The awards have been bestowed on Lowestoft sailing trawler Excelsior LT472, John Wylson - a founder member of the Excelsior Trust - and historian Chris Brooks.

Chris Brooks award.

L-R: Mayor of Lowestoft, Cllr Alan Green, Mary Draper (former evacuee and current Treasurer of the Lowestoft Evacuee Association), Christopher Brooks, Sandra Delf (co-author with Clive Capps of ‘A Long Way From Home: Evacuee Memories 80 Years On’) and her husband. - Credit: Phil Mummery

A Lowestoft town council spokesman said: "While not a regular activity of the town council, the council may choose to confer the title on persons who have rendered eminent services to Lowestoft or to organisations and objects of distinction that are linked to the town."

The award of Honorary Freeman to Chris Brooks, centre, at the ‘Lowestoft 1945: The Year the Lights Came Back On’ event.

The award of Honorary Freeman to Chris Brooks, centre, at the ‘Lowestoft 1945: The Year the Lights Came Back On’ event. - Credit: Bob Collis


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On Saturday, June 19, the Mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green attended the ‘Lowestoft 1945: The Year the Lights Came Back On’ event at Lowestoft's Marina Theatre to inform Mr Brooks that he had been awarded Freedom of the Town of Lowestoft.

Nominated by the Lowestoft Evacuee Association, the award recognises Mr Brooks’ dedicated contribution to the Association over the past 30 years.

The award of Honorary Freeman to Chris Brooks, centre. 

The award of Honorary Freeman to Chris Brooks, centre. - Credit: Bob Collis

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For maritime sailing icon Excelsior LT472 it was double delight as the much-loved historic ship and her locally based rescuer, John Wylson, were both awarded ‘Freedom of The Town of Lowestoft’ honours in recognition of their activities.

In Excelsior’s instance this is the first time the council has awarded a Freedom honour to something other than a person.

A chartered architect and sailor, Mr Wylson found and rescued Excelsior in Norway where she was working as a ‘motor coaster’ and in 1972 brought the vessel back to Lowestoft.

He set up The Excelsior Trust to restore her back to her original condition, securing funding and manpower for completing the restoration.

John Wylson aboard The Excelsior with the National Historic Ship Flagship of the year award for East Anglia in 2016.

John Wylson aboard The Excelsior with the National Historic Ship Flagship of the year award for East Anglia in 2016. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Mr Wylson said: “This means a great deal to me.

"I am delighted and honoured on their behalf to be given the Freedom of the Town”.

Excelsior chairman Jamie Campbell: “We are, of course, thrilled that Lowestoft has recognised the importance of the ship as a lasting memorial of the area’s maritime heritage and hope that this will encourage the local community to support and be proud of this remarkable centenarian."

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