Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 17:30 UK

Freeman honour for oldest veteran

Henry Allingham
Mr Allingham is the sole survivor of the Battle of Jutland

War veteran Henry Allingham - the UK's oldest man - has been made an honorary freeman of Brighton and Hove.

City councillors voted unanimously in favour of honouring the 112-year-old RAF veteran at a special meeting.

Mr Allingham was honoured for his service during both world wars and praised for relating his experiences to local school children.

He said he was honoured to receive the award from the mayor of Brighton and Hove, Garry Peltzer Dunn.

The ceremonial honour is given to those deemed to have served in an exceptional capacity and can be conferred by a special resolution of the council if two thirds of members vote in favour.

It read: "That the honour and title of honorary freeman of the city of Brighton and Hove be bestowed on Mr Henry Allingham in grateful recognition of his exceptional services during both world wars and his work to ensure future generations do not forget the debt owed to all those who gave their lives to ensure freedom for all."

Henry is very modest about his achievements
Dennis Goodwin, long-time friend

City council leader Mary Mears said they were fortunate he had made the city his home.

"We are also extremely grateful for the time and effort that he has taken in speaking with schoolchildren about his life and wartime experiences," she said earlier.

"The sacrifices made for their present, by people from our recent past must not be forgotten."

Mr Peltzer Dunn said he thought Mr Allingham should be given a knighthood.

He said: "I think it is unbelievable that he hasn't been honoured with a knighthood.

"I feel that there is no honour too good for him."

Mr Allingham, the last surviving founder member of the RAF and one of two surviving Worl War I veterans, moved to St Dunstan's care home for blind ex-service personnel in Ovingdean, near Brighton, after leaving his flat along the coast in Eastbourne in 2006.

Dennis Goodwin, Mr Allingham's long-time friend and founder of the First World War Veterans' Association, said: "Henry is very modest about his achievements.

'Achieved so much'

"A familiar phrase that he uses is, 'Why me?'.

"I tell him that he is famous and he has achieved so much at such a late time in his life, and that's what people love about him."

Mr Allingham, who now has his first great-great-great-grandchild, joined the Royal Navy Air Service in September 1915 before transferring to the RAF in April 1918.

He was last month made an honorary member of the Royal Naval Association and also received an upgraded Legion d'Honneur in London, six years after receiving his first one.

Last month, he became Britain's oldest ever man when he reached 112 years and 296 days, surpassing Welshman John Evans who died in 1990 aged 112 years and 295 days.

He will turn 113 on 6 June.

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