THE founder of successful Poole superyacht company Sunseeker, has been made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Poole.

The council's highest honour has gone to entrepreneur and marine engineer Robert Braithwaite.

"For bringing employment, prosperity, prestige and true charity to Poole," Mayor, Cllr Ann Stribley announced that she was admitting Mr Braithwaite as an Honorary Freeman, "as someone who has rendered eminent services to the Borough".

The 72-year-old started Poole Powerboats which grew into Sunseeker, having borrowed £5,000 to built his first 17ft boat in the 1960s.

Following collaboration with race boat hull designer Don Shead, this quickly expanded into Sunseeker, which began with a team of seven people and now employs more than 2,000 in Poole, training apprentices and growing their skills.

Over the past 47-years the company has created thousands of jobs for skilled workers and exports 99 per cent of its boats made in Poole.

In 2002 he was awarded Ernst & Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year and was appointed CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2007.

After Sunseeker yachts appeared in four consecutive James Bond films, he was asked to appear in a cameo role in the 2008 film Quantum of Solace in which Daniel Craig starred. The scene he was in was filmed on location in Italy and features James Bond in a Sunseeker Sovereign 17, one of the company's first open-cockpit speedboats.

In June 2013, Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group bought a 91.8 per cent stake in the company and he continues as Founder, while supporting and growing his personal charitable foundations and interests.

Following successful treatment as a patient at Poole Hospital he donated a £3.5million da Vinci robot system, which carries out laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, used to treat rectal, gynaecological, head and neck cancers, giving the most advanced treatment available anywhere.