THE former MP for Salisbury Robert Key has been given the Freedom of the City for his service and dedication.

Mr Key was handed the honour at a ceremony at the Guildhall on Thursday, attended by city councillors, civic dignitaries and his family.

Mr Key became the city’s MP in 1983 until 2010, when he was succeeded by John Glen following his decision to stand down.

The honour was handed to him for his 27 years of representing Salisbury in parliament and his work in making in city a better place.

Mr Key said: “It was a wonderful celebration of the vitality of the city because people of all generations and all political parties came together.

“It is a huge honour to be granted the Freedom of the City. For the city council to give me this honour it is something I will treasure.

“Although it doesn’t allow me to herd sheep through the city it does give me motivation to continue to be an ambassador wherever I go in the world or the city.”

Away from politics Mr Key, who was born in Plymouth and moved to the city aged two, became a member of the General Synod of the Church of England from 2005 to 2015 and has been a Lay Canon of Salisbury Cathedral since 2008.

In 2015 Mr Key chaired the Salisbury Cathedral Magna Carta 800th Board and was a member of the National Magna Carta 800th Committee.

Speaking at the ceremony, Salisbury mayor John Lindley said Mr Key was a “distinguished and active member” of the Magna Carta committee and that it was a “delight” to bestow the honour upon him.

Cllr Lindley added: “Robert has had a remarkable career and is an incredibly distinguished public servant.”

Mr Key was offered the chance to become a Freeman of the City last month in a letter from city council leader Matthew Dean and said it was “really wonderful”.

The former Conservative MP is only the second living Honorary Freeman of Salisbury. The other is philanthropist Lady Jo Benson.