Robbie Williams in honoured by Freedom of Stoke
Chart star Robbie Williams has been given one of his greatest honours after years of amassing awards - the Freedom of the City of his native Stoke-on-Trent.
The singer - who has never lost touch with his roots, making regular visits home - took his pregnant wife Ayda and 22-month-old baby Teddy to the ceremony attended by civic dignitaries.
Williams delighted his parents, Jan and Peter, by keeping the event a surprise until they arrived at the Town Hall.
The star, currently touring his Swings Both Ways album, said: "I am delighted to have received the great honour of the Freedom of the City of Stoke-on-Trent.
"It's been a special day for Ayda and I and I am very grateful to those involved, especially to The Lord Mayor, for this honour."
Williams requested Staffordshire oatcakes, topped with Staffordshire cheese and bacon, from a local bakery were laid on to celebrate the occasion.
He was presented with an honorary scroll by Lord Mayor Majid Khan and the council's chief executive John van de Laarschot also attended. The star then signed the roll of honorary freemen, which includes one of his footballing heroes - Sir Stanley Matthews.
Williams, who was clearly touched by the accolade, said: "There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. This particular village moulded me into the man I am today. I wear where I am from as a badge of honour. So to have that honour returned to me is very special.
"I'm proud of our six towns. I'm proud to come from Stoke-on-Trent. I'm extremely honoured and grateful that you think it's fitting to give me this recognition. God bless you all."
He also took his wife and daughter to see the blue heritage plaque which was put up in Victoria Park during a series of celebrations to mark his 40th birthday in February.
The family watched a short film at today's ceremony including highlights of the event, which was organised by Stoke local paper The Sentinel, and included performances, street parties and a bus tour.
Williams said afterwards: "It meant so much to me that I was able to visit Stoke privately today with my family - it's the first time Teddy has been and we got to visit the Town Hall and to see the plaque in Victoria Park."