WHEN someone is given an honour that in the past has been awarded to the likes of Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela, you’d think them to be a high powered politician themselves.

But instead, it is an Essex osteopath that has just become the latest man to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

James di Cicco, 29, of Chelmsford, works for the Cedar Hall clinics on Kings Street, Stanford-le-Hope and Hart Road, Thundersley.

But the chance meeting that has lead to his name appearing alongside Princess Diana and Florence Nightingale occurred when he was studying at the British College of Osteopathic Medicine in London.

James said: “While studying I done some work in the university clinic and one of our patients was having shoulder problems. It was a long chronic injury and he was coming in for about three months.

“After we discharged him he was really happy. He went from not being able to move his shoulder to full movement.

“He said he wanted to thank me and the next thing I knew he’d nominated me. I was flattered, I didn’t know he would do something like that.”

The tradition of granting the Freedom of the City of London is believed to date back to 1237, and is one of the oldest surviving ceremonies still in existence today.

There are a number of rights traditionally allowed to ‘freemen’, though these days is merely symbolic, such as the right to drive sheep or cattle over London Bridge and if found drunk and incapable by police being put in a taxi home as opposed to a cell.

Not that James, who said he didn’t have plans to do either of those activities. “I can’t see myself doing such things, especially carrying a sword in public, which is another privilege.”

The ceremony where James will be given the award will be at the Guildhall in London on Friday, March 21.