South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade (SSVLB) have had their work honoured by being handed one of the most prestigious civic awards.
The organisation celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, and members have been saving lives around the coastline throughout that time.
A special ceremony was held at South Shields Town Hall to mark the award, with the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, handing the Freedom Scroll to Tom Fennelly, honorary secretary of SSVLB.
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Mr Fennelly said: “To receive this great honour on behalf of all members past and present signifies the remarkable record of support from our local council since the brigade was formed over 150 years ago. It is a very proud occasion in our history and we are grateful to the members and officers of South Tyneside Council and their predecessors for this wonderful tribute.
“The Volunteer Life Brigade upholds the town motto ‘Always Ready’ and will continue to fulfil its role in serving the local community with an even greater sense of pride and purpose.”
The Mayor said: “Being awarded the Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour to be bestowed on any organisation or citizen and is a token of the high respect and esteem in which South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade is held by the council. The brigade’s contribution to the borough has been immense in saving many hundreds of lives over the last century and a half. The volunteers are all local heroes.”
SSVLB provides a 24-hour specialist coastal search and rescue service, supporting other emergency services.
Janis Blower, president of the SSVLB, was the first guest to receive a commemorative plate from the Mayor as a keepsake of the occasion.
The award has only been bestowed on nine previous occasions since 1981.