ONE of Durham city’s oldest institutions has gained four new members.

Solicitor Norman Hart, a former senior partner at BHP Law, chartered accountant Alan Ribchester, and journalist George Oliver, who are all recently retired trustees of the City of Durham Freemen, have all just been sworn into the organisation as gentlemen freemen.

The rarely awarded accolade is public acknowledgement of that work, giving direct admission to the ranks of the freemen, whose guilds are believed to date back to the early 14th century.

Eric Bulmer, chairman of the freemen’s wardens, said: “It has been a privilege to work closely with all three trustees who have provided many years of dedicated service to the Durham City Freemen. Their inclusion into the ranks of gentlemen freemen is well served and a fitting tribute.”

Mr Hart, 76, served for his last two years as a trustee as chairman while Mr Ribchester will continue to offer financial advice to the organisation’s charitable trust.

Meanwhile Alan Metcalf, who works at Clayport Library, became a member of the Cordwainers’ Company, which he was able to do because he was an apprentice mechanic at the Adams and Gibbon garage in Claypath in 1973.