A SOLIHULL soldier who threw himself on top of a live grenade while serving in Afghanistan has been given the Freedom of the Borough in recognition of his bravery
Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher has already received the George Cross and last night he was given Solihull Council's highest accolade.
Earlier this year, the heroic 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.
He received the award at the civic suite before a meeting of the full council last night.
It is only the second time the borough has bestowed the honour - it was previously given to members of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Volunteers in 1985.
Speaking to the Solihull Times yesterday, Lance Corporal Croucher said: "It's been a strange time since April really. I didn't really think about what happened at the time, but there's been a lot of publicity so I've been talking about the event a lot.
"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."
It was during a mission in the war-torn Helmand province that the marine reservist stepped on a tripwire and activated the grenade.
The rest of the troop were stunned to see Lance Corporal Croucher use his body as a shield. Incredibly the former Lyndon School pupil survived the ordeal virtually unscathed - his rucksack bore the brunt of the explosion.
Lance Corporal Croucher will be collecting his George Cross from Buckingham Palace later this month.
Councillor David Bell, Mayor of Solihull, 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."
Freedom of the Borough dates back to the middle ages, although today it no longer conveys any legal rights or responsibilities. It is normally awarded to local people who have made a significant contribution to Solihull or achieved something outstanding.