IN 1987, Archbishop Desmond Tutu became the only overseas person to be made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Durham in the 350 years that the honour has been awarded – it nearly always has gone to people rooted in the city (Memories 558).

The 1980s were a curious political time, and as the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had set herself against the “terrorists” who were campaigning for the ending of apartheid in South Africa, so the Labour Party embraced them in strange ways.

The situation was lampooned in Only Fools and Horses where Del Boy lives in Nelson Mandela House in Peckham in south-east London.

Whatever the politics of 1987, Archbishop Tutu, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, was a very worthy recipient of the honour which was bestowed upon him in the Town Hall, followed by a service in the cathedral.

Sadly, most of the Echo photographs of the day have disappeared, but Romey Chaffer has kindly sent us one that appears to have been bought from the Echo group of newspapers.

The Northern Echo: Archbishop desmond Tutu in Durham in 1987

“A group of us were welcoming Archbishop Tutu and my neighbour Steve Baldwin lifted up my son, Matt Smith, who was then seven-years-old,” says Romey.

And Matt says: “I still remember the day when a smiley guy in a big purple dress gave my cheek a tug!”