Birmingham & Black Country

Noddy Holder from Slade given freedom of Walsall

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Media captionNoddy Holder made Freeman of Walsall

Former Slade star Noddy Holder has been given the freedom of Walsall.

Mr Holder, who was born in the Caldmore area, was made an honorary freeman of the borough at the town hall.

Slade had a string of hits in their 1970s and early 80s heyday, including Merry Xmas Everybody and Coz I Luv You. Mr Holder has also acted and provided TV voiceovers.

He told a packed council chamber he was "thrilled" and "proud" to receive the honour.

"I only wish my mum and dad were alive to be there. They both lived in Walsall all of their lives," he added.

'Flown the flag'

During the ceremony, which took place in the council chamber, Mr Holder, 68, was presented with a silver casket containing a scroll which recorded his admission as an honorary freeman of the borough.

Some fans watched from the chamber's public gallery while others viewed the proceedings on a screen in the town hall.

Accepting the award, Mr Holder said he hoped it would raise the profile of the arts in the West Midlands, which he had aimed to promote throughout his 50-year career.

Image caption Mayor of Walsall Pete Smith said Mr Holder had brought international recognition to the town

"I think I've flown the flag for the West Midlands and the Black Country during the last 50 years," he said.

"The Midlands has some of the best artists, produced great bands, great comedians, great dancers, but people outside the Midlands don't recognise them for it," he said.

'Rock legend'

Mayor Pete Smith presented Mr Holder with the honour and said it was given in "grateful recognition of service to the entertainment and music industry for the last 50 years".

"He was, and still is, a down-to-Earth guy, proud of his Walsall and Black Country roots and connections", he said.

Council leader Mike Bird said he was "absolutely delighted and very proud that Noddy Holder has accepted this honour."

He added it was a "special occasion" for the town.

Afterwards, Mr Holder conducted a short question and answer session with fans.

Mr Holder, who made his singing debut aged seven on stage at Walsall Labour Working Men's Club, has said he still thinks of Walsall as "home" and regularly returns for "a decent curry".

He has lived near Wilmslow, Cheshire, for more than 25 years.

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