A ROUND of applause greeted the announcement that HMS Quorn has been given freedom of the borough in Melton.

Councillors gathered at a special meeting last night to vote on the award, with no objections.

Mayor of Melton Ron Marks has been the driving force behind the bid. He said: "I'm very pleased with the result, as I have spent many long hours perusing the details.

"I have also been talking to people so that when I recommended the scheme they are aware of all the benefits."

Mr Marks said he hoped the people in the town would make the most of the award: "This will give the town closer links with the Royal Navy and should be of great interest to young people.

"I'm certain that we will be able to set up internet and email links between HMS Quorn and secondary schools in the borough."

Mr Marks added that in April 2007, there are tentative plans for the ship to anchor in Boston, Lincolnshire for a visit by local schoolchildren.

Brenda Smith, ward councillor for Egerton, said she supported the scheme: "We have a few sea cadets in Melton so this will be of immense interest to them."

Only two councillors abstained from voting, one of which was former mayor Pat Cumbers, who in the past had questioned whether or not the ship had rendered emminent services to the borough.

She said: "This is democracy. HMS Quorn is a fine ship and I hope that from now on people in the borough will work together to make the most of this honour."

It is understood that processing the bid will cost 5,000. HMS Quorn is only the second recipient of the award, with the first being the Defence Animal Centre in 1977.