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Friday 19 September 2014

Award plans for veteran escapee

Published 10/06/2014 | 16:22

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Bernard Jordan waving as he returned to Portsmouth on a ferry

Normandy veteran Bernard Jordan, who staged his "great escape" from his nursing home to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations of D-Day in France, could be honoured with the freedom of his home city.

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Mayor of Brighton and Hove Brian Fitch is proposing that the city council grants the accolade - which has previously been given to a select few including World War One hero Henry Allingham, Olympic champion Steve Ovett and Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi - to the 89-year-old.

He will be writing to the local authority's chief executive Penny Thompson and a special council meeting could be held next month to agree the proposal.

Mr Fitch said: "The fact that he wanted to go to the 70th anniversary of D-Day and couldn't get on the official party and was determined to make his own way shows the sort of spirit many people had when they were part of D-Day which was to help liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny.

"And at the age of 89 he hasn't lost any of that spirit and I think he has been an inspiration to all ages."

Mr Fitch said he met Mr Jordan, who will celebrate his 90th birthday next Monday, and presented him with two bottles of Normandy cider and took him out for lunch.

He said: "People were cheering him in the streets, shaking his hand. I think it is a wonderful thing he has done and I want to honour him for it."

Mr Fitch said Mr Jordan should also be honoured for his 40 years of public service as a councillor, and for his work as council leader and as mayor of Hove.

Mr Jordan, a former Royal Navy officer, hit the headlines when he left The Pines nursing home in Hove last week after he had been told he would not be able to attend the anniversary events in Normandy.

He set off with a grey mac with his war medals on underneath and made his way to France anyway, determined not to miss out. His disappearance led to Sussex Police launching an investigation to ensure he was safe.

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