INTERNATIONAL charity Oxfam was awarded the Freedom of the City of Oxford at a ceremony packed with supporters and dignitaries.

The award, which according to tradition gives holders the right to drive sheep through the city, was bestowed to celebrate the charity’s 70th anniversary.

A special meeting of Oxford City Council was held on Tuesday night and the honorary title was presented to Oxfam chief executive Dame Barbara Stocking, right, by Lord Mayor Alan Armitage, after the honour was proposed by Labour councillor Antonia Bance, seconded by Liberal Democrat John Goddard and supported by Green councillor Craig Simmons.

Ms Bance said the charity had come a long way since it was founded in 1942 in response to a hunger crisis in Greece, which was under German occupation during the Second World War.

She said: “I think it’s astounding that from a meeting of one parish in one church it has become a brand and presence so ubiquitous."

Mr Goddard added: “Oxfam is embedded in Oxford life. Evidence of this integration is never very far away.”

Mr Simmons said: “I’m immensely proud to live in the city which gave Oxfam its name.”

Picture: OX55136 Damian Halliwell