PRINCE Charles, who has given his personal support to the regeneration of Ripon, is to be made a freeman of the city at a ceremony in the cathedral on October 24.

The Prince's decision to accept the honour is seen as a major coup for Ripon. He has been credited with playing an influential role in the town's regeneration and has twice visited the city in recent years to see how improvements were progressing.

On one occasion, he surprised regulars at the Royal Oak pub in the city centre by popping in for a pint.

The Mayor of Ripon, Coun Bernard Batemen, said they were delighted the Prince had accepted the invitation to become a freeman. He praised the efforts of Michael Abrahams for his chairmanship of the Ripon Improvement Trust which had helped to steer Ripon ahead.

Coun Bateman had asked Mr Abrahams, deputy Lord Lieuteanant of North Yorkshire, to approach Prince Charles and see if he was willing to accept the freemanship.

Ripon City Council wants to involve a cross-section of the public in the ceremony, due to be attended by 600.

Ten children from each of the city's schools will be invited, along with ten people from each electoral ward.

Detailed times have yet to be announced, but the Prince will also meet business leaders at the newly-opened Ripon Library. High on the agenda will be regeneration of market towns. He is meeting the business community as president of the Business in the Community organisation.

The Prince will also launch his organisation's latest initiative Market Towns, Connecting Companies with Communities.

The opening of Ripon bypass eight years ago and reopening of the city's canal have been springboards for other improvements.

Following one of the Prince's visits to Ripon, the city's Improvement Trust was launched under the chairmanship of Mr Abrahams. It was sparked after the Prince's Institute of Architecture produced a report called the Vision of Ripon.

National Heritage Lottery cash produced almost £3m with total regeneration funding reaching nearly £4m.

Coun Bateman said Ripon's Royal day would see captains of industry coming to Ripon to look at what they were doing and planning to do.

Later in the day, the Prince will also visit Selby Abbey to see conservation work in progress there