A HEROIC former marine from Solihull who dived on a grenade to save his comrades while serving in Afghanistan has been given the Freedom of the Borough in recognition of his bravery.
Former Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher from Olton has already received the George Cross and last night he was given Solihull Council's highest accolade at a special meeting of the Council.
Earlier this year, the brave 24-year-old leapt on top of the Taliban booby-trap, saving the lives of his comrades and escaping with little more than a nosebleed.
Incredibly his rucksack absorbed the blast and within minutes the former Lyndon School pupil was helping to stage an ambush and tackle insurgents with burning shrapnel still embedded in his body armour. The four men with 40 Commando returned safely to base.
Mayor of Solihull, Cllr David Bell, said: "We are honoured to be able to bestow this award to Lance Corporal Croucher. He epitomises the very best qualities of our armed forces and young people. We are proud to have him as one of our own."
It is only the second time the borough has bestowed the honour - previously it was awarded to members of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Volunteers in 1985. The Council will, at a later date, present Mr Croucher with a commemorative scroll.
He said: "After the grenade went off we just carried on with our work. The main thing was just a great relief that I'd come out of it. I've been recognised a few times since I got back, but I suppose you have to accept it."
Mr Croucher will collect his George Cross from Buckingham Palace later this month.
The Freedom of the Borough dates back to medieval times, when there was a class of citizen known as freemen who enjoyed important privileges.
Today the award doesn't have any legal rights and responsibilities but is normally only awarded to local people who have made a significant contribution to the locality or have achieved something outstanding.