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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 11:30 GMT
Trio receive home town accolade
Julie Walters
Walters has won two Baftas
Actress Julie Walters, comedian Frank Skinner and former footballer Cyril Regis have been given the freedom of their home borough.

Sandwell Borough Council staged a special ceremony on Saturday morning in recognition of the Black Country's most famous stars.

The trio then officially opened Oldbury Civic Square in Freeth Street.

The honours were bestowed as part of Sandwell's 30th anniversary celebrations.

Sandwell was formed as a result of a local government shake-up in 1974.

Six people now have the freedom of the borough, including former Commons Speaker and West Bromwich West MP Betty Boothroyd.

Oscar nominations

Council leader Bill Thomas said: "We are absolutely overjoyed that all three extremely busy people have been able to come along, not only to receive this honour, but also to help launch our 30th anniversary week.

"These are three people who have earned distinction in the worlds of football, comedy and acting as well as setting aside time to maintain close links with community organisations in Sandwell."

Walters was born in Smethwick and is one of British television's most popular actresses.

She has won two Baftas and also received Oscar nominations for films Educating Rita and Billy Elliot.

Skinner, born in West Bromwich and raised in Oldbury and Smethwick, hosts The Frank Skinner Show on ITV1.

Regis was born in French Guyana and played for West Bromwich Albion for seven years, scoring more than 100 goals for the club.

During his time with the Baggies, he was one of the first black players to play for England. He went on to play for Coventry City.

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