A CIVIL engineer, who played a key role in re-building and repairing the fabric of Durham has been sworn in as a freeman of the city.

As the, then, director of operations, Bryan Proud led the city’s 500-strong manual workforce until his retirement more than 20 years ago.

The 74-year-old widower, a father-of-two, has now become one of the six men and two women admitted to Durham’s ancient trade guilds.

All were welcomed in as freemen by Durham’s Mayor, councillor Arnie Simpson during a colourful Town Hall ceremony.

Read more: Community champion installed to head Durham City's Freemen

Beginning as an apprentice draughtsman in 1964 he rose to become chief engineers and then operations director, a post he held until his retirement in 2000.

One of the many projects in his career from which he takes particular pleasure was his involvement in the unique design of a footbridge over the A690 at the Gilesgate roundabout.

Frosterley-born Mr Proud said: “I worked within the Town Hall building for a number of years and always took an interest in the guilds and their contribution to city life over so many centuries.

“It’s an honour to be joining them.”

Three other newcomers, Barrie Arckless, John Ferguson and Charlie Robinson, and all now retired, are former plumbing apprentices who served their time with private companies within the city boundaries.

Mr Arckless, now 78 and a widower, left school at 15, but, as an experienced 18-year-old apprentice by the early 1960s, was part of a four-man team tasked with installing an iron pipe central heating system in Durham Cathedral.

Miner’s son Mr Ferguson, born in 1949 in Coxhoe, began work in 1965 before joining the city council’s engineer’s department eleven years later.

He married his wife Phyllis in 1970 and the couple have three children.

A 13-year career switch took John into private contract work on the construction of private hospitals across the across the country before he opted to join the prison service in 1992, first with HMP Durham’s works department before moving on to Low Newton, now a women’s prison.

Mr Robinson, now 78, is married with two children, a son and daughter.

He also started work at 15, retiring when he was into his 60s, with 45 years of his career spent with the same company.

Durham Cathedral, castle, a range of university building and number of churches benefitted from his skills, including the city’s observatory where he helped replace the striking copper dome in the early 60s.

The four remaining new faces, two men and two women, all follow their parents into the freemen’s companies.

For 40-year-old Robert Ribchester it is not the first time he has taken a lead provided by his dad Alan, a chartered accountant, a long-serving freemen’s trustee, and more lately a member of the Cordwainers’ Company.

Mr Ribchester snr’s financial expertise continues to guide the hand of the freemen’s charitable trust.

Son Robert, now a partner in the Durham-based firm in which his father was also a partner, is an award winning chartered accountant in his own right, voted the profession’s North East top newcomer in 2012.

For Amy Faulkner and her cousin Lewis Brolls, admission to the Barbers’ Company further reinforces their family’s solid links.

Ms Faulkner joins mother Kay, while Mr Brolls’ qualification for membership comes via his mother Hilary.

Their grandfather, Alan Dufton, is a former warden of the company and a well-known, now retired hairdresser in the city.

Durham-born Ms Faulkner, now 25, who has achieved a teaching degree in primary education, teaches at a local school, but is a keen golfer, enjoying a round when time allows.

Mr Brolls, 20, also born in Durham, is a second year civil engineering university student in Newcastle and a keen weekend footballer.

Mother-of-three Anna Holden follows in the footsteps of her dad, David Vasey, brother Andrew and aunt Kathleen, warden of the Drapers’ Company and the organisation’s secretary.

Now a full-time mother, 44-year-old Mrs Holden, who lives in the city, formerly worked in retail production development.

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