Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 09:37 UK

Top balloonist given City honour

David Hempleman-Adams
David Hempleman-Adams went to the North Pole with his daughter

Record-breaking balloonist David Hempleman-Adams is to receive the Freedom of the City of London.

He is one of 20 hot air enthusiasts to be honoured in recognition of their contribution to the sport.

In 1998, he became the first man to reach the geographic and magnetic North and South Poles and climb the highest peaks in all seven continents.

The 51-year-old, from Wiltshire, will receive the honour on Thursday at the Guildhall in the Square Mile.

The Freedom of the City, which is believed to have begun in 1237, no longer conveys traditional privileges, such as driving sheep across London Bridge and going about the City with a drawn sword.

Ballooning records

But Freemen may still qualify for housing in the Alms houses if they become destitute in old age and, if orphaned, their children may be educated free of charge at The Freeman's School at Ashtead in Surrey.

The new "Freemen" are planning to fly 20 hot air balloons across the City in the next few weeks in aid of the Lord Mayor's Appeal.

Mr Hempleman-Adams recently returned from a trip to the North Pole with his 15-year-old daughter Camilla, who became the youngest British female to ski the journey.

He has held a number of ballooning records, including staging the highest formal dinner party, at 24,262ft, in a specially-designed hot air balloon in 2005.

In January 2007 he broke the 26-year-old world hot air balloon altitude record, by ascending to 32,500ft over Alberta, Canada.

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