Freedom of the town honours awarded at special ceremony

The popular Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior LT472

The popular Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior LT472. - Credit: Mick Howes

An evening of firsts attracted a fine turnout as "incredible" honours were bestowed on two worthy recipients.

The Freedom of the Town was conferred for the first time as a mayor gave new civic robes their first official outing.

For the first time since its formation in 2017, Lowestoft Town Council conferred the title of Freedom of the Town to three recipients - with two Honorary Freeman Awards handed out last week.

With historian Chris Brooks receiving one of the awards in June, a special ceremony was held at the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club last Friday as the popular Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior LT472 and John Wylson - a founder member of the Excelsior Trust - received Freedom of the Town of Lowestoft honours from the Mayor of Lowestoft, Alan Green.

The mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green presents the awards to John Wylson and Excelsior.

The mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green presents the awards to John Wylson and Excelsior. - Credit: Mick Howes

The mayor welcomed the guests who included Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Hugh Somerleyton, Keith Robinson, chairman of East Suffolk Council, Lowestoft town councillors, members of the Excelsior Trust, the vessel’s crew, and other supporters.

John Wylson prepares to cut the ceremonial cake.

John Wylson prepares to cut the ceremonial cake. - Credit: Mick Howes

With the maritime sailing icon Excelsior, operated by The Excelsior Trust in Lowestoft, marking it's 100th anniversary this year there was a ceremonial cutting of a birthday cake on Excelsior’s deck to celebrate her centenary.

The ceremonial cake.

The ceremonial cake. - Credit: Mick Howes


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The mayor said: “Since Lowestoft Town Council's formation in 2017 we have had many first times at doing things and tonight is no exception.

Mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green with the new mayoral robes.

Mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green with the new mayoral robes. - Credit: Mick Howes

"This is the first time that the new mayoral robes are being worn.

Mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green with the new mayoral robes.

Mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green with the new mayoral robes. - Credit: Mick Howes

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"The town council commissioned the robes that I am wearing with a brief that they will be unique whilst keeping in the civic tradition and truly reflect our special town.

Mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green with the new mayoral robes.

Mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green with the new mayoral robes. - Credit: Mick Howes

"What could be more appropriate as I stand here near Excelsior as the new gown portrays our town’s most easterly position, the blue of our sea and the image of a sailing smack hand embroidered in gold on the sleeve.

Mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green with the new mayoral robes.

The new mayoral robes. - Credit: Mick Howes

"And there is another first this evening – this is the first time that LTC has conferred the title of freedom of the town.

"The town council does not take making an award lightly."

The mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green presents the first award to John Wylson. 

The mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green presents the first award to John Wylson. - Credit: Mick Howes

Referring to the first recipient of the award, he said: “Mr John Wylson is a chartered accountant and a sailor and was nominated by the Excelsior Trust for his enthusiasm which has been of immense value to traditional shipbuilding in East Anglia and in particular Lowestoft.

"John first brought the boat back to Lowestoft from Norway in 1972 and began her reconstruction.

"After 50 years this has been a lifetimes work.

"It is my honour to confer on him the honour of Freedom of the Town.”

Mr Wylson replied by giving thanks for "this incredible honour", adding: "It is somewhat embarrassing to be singled out in this way, because if ever there were a community project this is it.

"There are a number of people and groups without whom this smack would never have been restored - let alone reach the grand old age of 100.

"Without the ongoing support of countless individuals, numerous local companies and organisations, and the incredibly supportive grant-giving Trusts, Excelsior would never have been completed and maintained to the standard of authenticity for which she is now well known."

The popular Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior LT472.

The popular Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior LT472. - Credit: Mick Howes

The mayor added: “The second award is for the Excelsior herself, nominated by the Excelsior Trust.

"Excelsior marked her centenary in 2021 and the title is awarded to mark a unique status as being the last authentic Lowestoft smack in the country which is recognised by the National Maritime Museum.

"Since her recommissioning Excelsior has taken nearly 10,000 often disadvantaged young people to sea.

"Of course, the town applauds the Excelsior’s contributions to our maritime heritage and tourist economy but the fact that she has also enriched the lives of so many people of this town demonstrates how deserved this award is.

The mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green presents the award to members of the Excelsior crew.

The mayor of Lowestoft Alan Green presents the award to members of the Excelsior crew. - Credit: Mick Howes

"To the Excelsior it is my honour to proffer the title of the freedom of the town of Lowestoft - in doing so I present this award to members of the crew."

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