A Staffordshire businessman has received a ‘knighthood’ from the Pope in recognition of his charitable and community work.

Noel Sweeney, who is chairman of Tara Developments, based in Chasetown, was officially bestowed with the honour at a special ceremony last weekend.

He was presented the Order of St Gregory, one of five papal knighthoods of the Catholic Church, by Archbishop Bernard Longley, head of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

“This is an important achievement and recognises a person’s contribution above and beyond the life of the Church and the good example they set in their communities and country,” said Archbishop Longley.

“I am delighted that the Holy Father has granted the request to make Noel Sweeney a Knight of the Order of St Gregory.”

The nomination for the award is made directly by the Archbishop.

Mr Sweeney, who is 75 and lives near Lichfield, founded two successful regional businesses, Chasetown Civil Engineering and Cameron Homes, both based in Chasetown, which together now employ around 800 people.

He commented: “I am deeply honoured to have received this award and it was a privilege to be presented with it from Archbishop Longley at the Investiture Mass at my local church last weekend.”

His charity work includes helping to fund a new centre for the charity Sense in Birmingham and a new Catholic Church in Burntwood. He is also involved with St Joseph’s Catholic School in Chasetown and Cardinal Griffin School in Cannock.

In Rome, Noel is supporting a top professor to work as an archivist at the English College in Rome, which prepares men for the Catholic priesthood. He also sponsors many local agricultural shows in Ireland, where he has family links.

Throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham, which covers the West Midlands region, together with the counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire, there are around 19 Knights and Dames of St Gregory.