ACCRINGTON soap star Julie Hesmondhalgh will be given the Freedom of Hyndburn.

The 44-year-old actress, best known for her award-winning portrayal of Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, is to be the 20th person to be given the title of Honorary Freeman of the Borough later this year.

She said: “I’m really, really happy about it, it’s a lovely honour to have. The first I heard about it was when Dorothy McGregor got it a few years ago.

“I’m over the moon at getting the honour and so are all of my family.”

Hyndburn’s leisure and arts boss, Coun Ken Moss, said: “Julie is a local lass who has never forgotten her roots and has done some incredible work locally supporting the Maundy Relief charity.

“We want to recognise her achievements at both local and national level and what better time to do it with her portrayal of the death of Hayley Cropper receiving industry-wide recognition.”

Julie was born in Accrington and studied at Hyndburn Park Primary School, Moorhead High School, and Accrington and Rossendale College.

After moving to London in the 1980s to study music and drama, she found national fame in the long-running ITV soap.

Her character took her own life after struggling with terminal pancreatic cancer in a storyline that saw Julie awarded the Best Serial Drama Performance award at the National Television Awards in January. She was also crowned best actress at the 2014 British Soap Awards.

Other notable Hyndburn residents to be given the highest honour available in the borough include runner Ron Hill, former mayor Ted Hill and the Accrington Pals historian Bill Turner.