THE Queen’s representative in Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan, is to be given freedom of Southampton at a special ceremony.

The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire honoured at a public service at St Mary’s Church on Wednesday at 6pm.

Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Derek Burke, said it would be “one of the highlights” of his mayoral year to bestow this honour upon her.

“I’m really pleased that she’s had the opportunity to get this honour before she retires,” he told the Daily Echo.

“She’s been an outstanding servant to the county. It’s very rare for an individual to get it, it’s usually an organisation.

“She’s a great communicator for the Royal Family and she’s really interested in what the youth are doing and the concerns of the Prince’s Trust.

“She doesn’t just get honorary titles and do nothing, she gets out there and gets involved in charities. When she retires she will be a very tough act to follow.”

Dame Mary said: “I am deeply honoured that the mayor and members of Southampton City Council have given me the freedom of the city. This is indeed a very special award. “I have always had a great affection for Southampton going back to when I was a child and saw the great liners in the port. “Southampton has a great maritime history and its name is still synonymous with the sea. Since becoming Lord Lieutenant I have met and got to know many people from all walks of life – it really is a great city.”

Born in Nottinghamshire in 1939 Dame Mary has lived in Hampshire for more than 40 years and has been involved in numerous community projects, medical and charitable bodies, both as chairman and a member of the managing boards. Appointed as the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire in 1994, her role is to be responsible for arrangements made for royal visits to the county.

She is currently president and patron of more than 60 organisations involved in all aspects of life in Hampshire, including education, commerce, industry, the armed forces, and voluntary organisations. Dame Mary is also the chairman of the Advisory Committee for Magistrates and chancellor of the University of Winchester.

She was made a Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2009 and in May last year she was appointed as High Steward of Winchester by Winchester City Council.

The freedom of the city tradition, granted to only a handful of people throughout the years including Saints legends Ted Bates, Lawrie McMenemy and Matthew le Tissier, stems from the 1800s.

Carnival Corporation chairman and chief executive Micky Arison, the city’s Territorial Army units and the crew of HMS Southampton are among the other recipients.