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Top honour for Swansea’s Merchant Navy Association

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Swansea’s Merchant Navy Association has been awarded the Freedom of the city

Full Council on July 22 awarded the Swansea branch of the association the city’s highest honour as a mark of respect for the sacrifices made by merchant seamen during World War II and in other conflicts.

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Wendy Lewis, the council’s Armed Forces Champion, said the honour was richly-deserved and would help commemorate the role of the Merchant Navy in a maritime community.

Cllr Lewis said: “The Merchant Navy Association in Swansea was founded in 1998, initially to raise funds for a permanent memorial to those locally who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II.

“The memorial located in SA1 is a special place of pilgrimage for the families of those who gave their lives. It’s only right that more than 75 years after the end of World War II that the local branch of the MNA be given the honour.”

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council said: “Full Council agreed to award Swansea’s highest civic honour to the Merchant Navy Association last year. So it’s great that after the pandemic we were able to invite its members to the Council Chamber to receive the award.

“It’s perhaps easy to forget that 90% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat, arrives by sea. We owe British seafarers a debt of gratitude for their contribution in times of conflict and in times of peace.”

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Lord Mayor, Cllr Mike Day said: “The Merchant Navy Association continues to make a valuable contribution to the life of our city and, now that it’s safe to do so, I was looking forward to chairing this ceremonial meeting of the council to recognise its work.

“Like others in the Council, we have relatives who have served and are serving in the Merchant Navy, making this a very personal event as well as an honour bestowed by the whole city.”

Among those to have received the Freedom of the City in the past have been HMS Scott, HMS Scott, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and 157 (Welsh) Regiment of the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC). Rugby legend Alun Wyn Jones and Oscar-winning actress Catherine Zeta Jones have also received the award.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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