TWO retired craftsmen have been sworn in as freemen of Durham decades after first becoming eligible for the organisation.

Norman Johnston, who is known as Syd, 85, and Anthony Pritchard, 64, were sworn in at a ceremony on Monday.

Mr Johnston, who started as an apprentice bricklayer at Durham Rural District Council in 1952 is now a member of the mason’s company while Mr Pritchard, who became a trainee joiner after leaving school at 15, is part of the joiner’s company.

Loading article content

It was only recently both men were told by friends that having completed recognised apprenticeships within the city they qualified for membership of the centuries-old craft guilds.

The freemen’s eight companies are the modern day survivors of an organisation believed to date back to 1327.

Mr Johnston, who retired 20 years ago, said: “I know more than sixty years have passed but it’s better late than never.”

Mr Pritchard, who retired from Durham University’s estates team six years ago, said: “I have always been in work and consider I have been very lucky in life. It is quite an honour to become a freeman.”