NORTH-EAST actress Jill Halfpenny was today (Thursday, November 7) presented with the Freedom of the Borough of Gateshead at a special ceremony.

Jill, who grew up in Leam Lane in Gateshead, was conferred with the Freedom of the Borough in recognition of her services to musical theatre, television drama and entertainment, and for her charitable work.

The former St Edmund Campion RC School pupil first came to prominence in the locally-produced children’s TV drama series Byker Grove.

She has gone on to hold down major roles in a number of popular TV series including Coronation Street, EastEnders, Peak Practice and Waterloo Road.

She is also a previous winner of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and is an ambassador for the children’s charity Kidscape.

Councillors agreed to award the honour at a meeting of the council in September 2011, but due to Jill’s huge work commitments this will be first time that she has had the opportunity to attend a conferment ceremony.

One of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today is the granting of the Freedom of the Borough of Gateshead. It is an entirely ceremonial honour.