95-year-old Jean Bishop - Hull's Bee Lady - given Freedom of the City

Her prolific fundraising, dressed in her trademark bee outfit, has won her legions of fans.

Jean Bishop, 95 - Hull's much-loved Bee Lady

And today Jean Bishop, 95, was handed the highest honour that a council can bestow - putting her on a par with Nelson Mandela, Rugby League hero Johnny Whiteley and former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

The “Bee Lady” as she is known took it all in her stride when she was handed her Freedom of the City at Hull’s Guildhall, receiving a standing ovation.

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She is only the second woman ever to have been awarded the honour in 130 years. The first was internationally renowned anti-apartheid campaigner Helen Suzman 30 years ago.

Mrs Bishop who has raised more than £119,000 for Age UK said: “It was out of this world.

“I never expected so much pomp and ceremony. It was lovely.

“They said Mandela was one and I was on a level with him and I thought: ‘Oh my goodness.’

“I never expected anything like this, it is overwhelming and has taken me by surprise.”

Mrs Bishop said she will continue fundraising, but always needs someone by her side to help.

She said: “I really only go to the Prospect Centre (a Hull shopping centre) when the children are off school.

“The children won’t go by, they make their mothers stop and put money in the tin. They come and hug me and stroke my fur - they really love me.”

In 2013 Mrs Bishop’s hard work was rewarded with a Pride of Britain Award for Fundraiser of the Year and she was recently a one of the guests invited to attend a Royal lunch to welcome The Queen to Hull,

Leader of Hull Council Coun Steve Brady said: “Jean is a true inspiration and has worked tirelessly for more than 25 years to raise money for Age UK.

“She has become a local hero and I’m delighted she has again been recognised for all of her hard work by receiving this honour.”

There was only one thing missing yesterday - her bee outfit. Mrs Bishop admitted she may have looked “a little out of place because they were all dressed up in their suits.”