Sheep, swords and drunkenness: Whitnash man earns the perks of being a Freeman of the City

A WHITNASH man has joined his hero Nelson Mandela in becoming a Freeman of the City of London.

The historic title - its entitlements include being able to drive sheep across London Bridge, walk through the city with an unsheathed sword and immunity from arrest for drunkenness within the Square Mile - is normally conferred on statesmen and captains of industry.

David Mason, a consultant in local authority services, earned the honour while working for 18 months as director of people services at the City of London Corporation’s.

Mr Mason said the city, which has 350,000 people working there but only 11,000 residents, is like no other local authority. The number of people and the area it serves is so small he sometimes met the people his department helped in the supermarket.

His work included relocating people with special needs from the Occupy London encampment outside St Paul’s cathedral, restructuring adult social care services and co-ordinating the service’s Ofsted inspection, in which it was rated as ‘good with outstanding features’.

The Wolverhampton-born former social worker, who was director of social services at Warwickshire County Council until 1997, received the freedom at the Chamberlain’s Court at the City’s Guildhall on September 10, and saw the framed certificate given to his hero Nelson Mandela in the waiting area.

Mr Mason said: “It’s quite an honour. I’m told it’s very unusual for somebody who works for the corporation on a contract to be honoured. It’s for the great and the good, not the people who do the work.”