Coventry craftsmen who produce
the bodywork of famous cars such as Jaguar,
Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ford, and Mercedes have
been honoured as Freemen of the City.
The accolade, dating back to
the 14th century, is still bestowed in an official ceremony enacted by
the Lord Mayor in full regalia and is the first rung of the nobility.
It goes to student engineers
and skilled precision metalworkers to mark their successful completion
of a five year apprenticeship in the city.
Historically the honour went
to blacksmiths, arrow-smiths, those who fashioned suits of armour, or
built horse-drawn coaches - forerunners of the automobile.
Today arduous standards are
still set to keep technical and engineering skills high and keep
Coventry famous as a brand name for motoring excellence.
Paul Sullivan, CEO of Premier
Sheet Metal, a global supplier of prototype auto bodies and parts,
pays around £30,000 per student in wages during training.
He usually has a team of ten
apprentices in his employ, each learning their craft from
This is to meet the highest
demands for precision demanded by Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ford,
and Mercedes among the companies that source car parts and prototype
bodies in Coventry.
Paul, whose company is based
in Exhall said:
"We maintain the master
and apprentice system because it gets results that achieve the high
trained hour by hour, day by day, at the side of master craftsmen,
who hand down the skills of generations."
"I suppose the owners
of these cars, so popular around the world, might like to know the
noble heritage that still surrounds them."
In typical ancient English law
Freemen of the City have certain land rights, attend exclusive annual
ceremonies, and gain pensions and care in their retirement years.