AN HONOUR guard greeted Captain Sir Tom Moore when he arrived in town today to receive the freedom of Keighley.

Soldiers from the Yorkshire Regiment stood to attention as the NHS fundraising hero returned to his hometown.

Fellow service veterans stood with their regimental flags as Tom entered the town Hall Square to unveil a plaque in his honour.

Surrounded by a crowd of civic dignitaries and local residents, he also unveiled a similar plaque in honour of Keighley’s late historian and librarian Ian Dewhirst.

Tom, who was accompanied by family members, received several rounds of applause as he chatted with well-wishers and admired Keighley’s war memorial.

The plaque, on grass surrounding the square alongside North Street, recognises how Tom raised more than £30 million for the NHS last spring, and his dedication to country over his lifetime.

Keighley Town Council, which organised the event, decided not to publicise Tom’s visit in advance to avoid what it called “unnecessary and large” crowds.

But a small crowd did gather, including some who did not know Tom was coming but were curious to see the soldiers rehearsing their parade during the previous hour.

Following his visit to the town hall square, Tom was taken across North Street to Keighley Civic Centre – in the former police station – for a small civic reception hosted by Keighley town mayor Peter Corkindale.

He was formally presented with his Honorary Freeman of the Town scroll, surrounded by representatives from the NHS, Police, Fire and Ambulance Services, Yorkshire Regiment, the Duke of Wellington Regiment and the Yorkshire Society.

Tom went on to fulfil a small number of engagements organised by Keighley Town Council during Friday afternoon.

Town mayor Cllr Peter Corkindale said: “I am delighted to have been able to welcome Captain Sir Tom Moore back to his hometown today.

“Whilst it wasn’t a public event, Captain Sir Tom Moore was able to see just how proud we are of him and his wonderful achievements.

“The Town Council will ensure once the time is right, we have a public celebration to honour Captain Sir Tom Moore and all our hardworking NHS and frontline workers.

“I know from speaking to many people in Keighley, the exploits of Captain Sir Tom Moore during lockdown was just the pick-me-up they needed. I am not sure he will ever realise just what a difference he has made to so many people up and down the country.

“Becoming an Honorary Freeman of Keighley is the highest honour the town council can bestow on anyone and I am immensely proud to have presented Captain Sir Tom Moore with his scroll. We also intend to display a copy in the Civic Centre.”

A Keighley Town Council was given permission to go ahead with today’s event despite stringent new lockdown rules being imposed on Bradford district only hours beforehand.

A town council spokesman said: “In normal circumstances a homecoming such as this would be a large public event, however, given the current circumstances that isn’t possible.

“Keighley Town Council worked with Bradford MDC Emergency Planning Team and West Yorkshire Police to ensure all necessary mitigation measure were in place.”

The measures included no prior public promotion or notification of the visit, limiting Captain Tom’s time in public locations, providing free face coverings t members of the public nearby, members of encouraging the public to maintain social distancing at all times.

People attending the civic reception had to comply with social distancing, have their temperature checked on arrival, and provide their personal details for Track & Trace.