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Sheen granted home town 'freedom'

30 May 08 11:53 GMT

Actor Michael Sheen will receive the freedom of the borough of Neath Port Talbot, allowing him to drive sheep on one of his home town's busiest roads.

Sheen, who has mastered the roles of Tony Blair, Kenneth Williams and Sir David Frost, is being honoured as a "great ambassador" for the area.

He is currently making a film about the late football manager Brian Clough, but is expected to attend July's ceremony.

Sheen was bought up in Port Talbot, and his parents still live in the area.

He attended Blaenbaglan school and then Glanafan Comprehensive before moving on to Neath College.

He was also a member of both the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre and the National Youth Theatre of Wales.

Last year he portrayed Sir David Frost on stage in the acclaimed Frost/Nixon both at London's Gielgud Theatre and on Broadway and will star in the film version due out later this year.

He is shooting a screen version of David Peace's award winning book The Damned United - about Clough's ill-fated 44 day spell as manager of Leeds United in 1974.

Supporting his nomination, Aberavon councillor Anthony Taylor said Sheen had played to packed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Michael has a tremendous love of his home town and is a great ambassador for Neath Port Talbot," he said.

Margaret Thorne, a voluntary sector worker, will also receive the borough's freedom.

Mrs Thorne has spent much of her life in voluntary service and was awarded an OBE in 1984.

This was followed recently by a CBE for her work with Neath Port Talbot Council for Voluntary Service and other organisations in Wales.

Council leader Derek Vaughan said: "Being granted the freedom of the county borough is the highest honour to be bestowed on any individual.

"This is a token of the honour and esteem in which Margaret and Michael are held by the council."

Although a ceremonial title, one of the more obscure rights granted to a freeman of the borough is that they are allowed to herd sheep along Station Road in Port Talbot.

The ceremony will be held on the 15 July at Port Talbot's Princess Royal Theatre.

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