The charity that has made Remembrance Day poppies for nearly 100 years has been given the freedom of the borough of Richmond.

The honour is centuries old, and has its roots in medieval freemen being given commercial privileges and routes into local positions of power.

The Poppy Factory was set up in 1922, and moved to Petersham Road in Richmond, in 1925.

It employs disabled, wounded and sick veterans, and their dependants, to make poppies, wreaths and other items associated with Remembrance Sunday.

And since 2010, the charity has helped more than 1,000 veterans elsewhere in England, Wales and Northern Ireland find meaningful and stable jobs.

Although nowadays freedom of the borough gives no new legal rights, The Poppy Factory’s chief executive Deirdre Mills said it was a “tremendous honour” at a special meeting of the council on December 11.

She added: “We offer our sincere thanks to the council for recognising the deep and historic connection that our charity has with the borough, which will remain our home as we extend our reach to more wounded, injured and sick veterans across the UK.”

There are only 28 other people and organisations who have been given the freedom of Richmond since 1965.

These include naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, the Royal Military School of Music, based in Twickenham and Royal Navy frigate HMS Richmond.

The council had long-planned to give the factory the award in 2018 to coincide with the centenery of the end of World War One.

Cllr Paul Hodgins, leader of the opposition, said: “The Poppy Factory is one of the jewels of Richmond.

“It was a privilege to visit them earlier this year, and I was fascinated to see the history they have on display.

“I was also very moved to see the work they do to support veterans in need who have so honourably served our country.

“Not only is the freedom of the borough fully deserved, I hope it will help raise awareness of the Poppy Factory even further.

“I would encourage both residents and visitors to our borough to make time to visit the Poppy Factory. It will be an experience they will not forget.”

The borough’s first armed forces champion, Cllr Michael Butlin, said: “The Poppy Factory has been a constant reminder that we as a community must never forget the fallen, those disabled in service of our country and their dependants.

“This need to remember is renewed every time one of our service personnel is placed in harms way today and in the future.”