Freedom of the borough award winners

Inspirational figures collect coveted Freedom of the Borough awards

A philanthropist, a Bishop, a 60s popstar, a chief executive, and former headteacher have all been awarded the freedom of Barking and Dagenham. 

The five recipients received the coveted title in recognition for their services to the borough at a special ceremony held at Barking Town Hall on Friday 27 May.  

Among those receiving the award, which is the highest accolade the council can hand out, was former headteacher, David Dickson. 

He had been part of the fabric at Eastbury Community School for over two decades, rising from being deputy head through to headteacher and executive head before retiring at the end of last year. During his tenure, he helped transform the school into one of the best in the borough – and even guided it to being named the kindest in the country in 2016. 

Also collecting the coveted award were previously named recipients, including businessman-turned-philanthropist, Martin J Sullivan, OBE. Now based in America, the Dagenham-born man received the honour in recognition for his investment and dedication to the young people of the borough, including helping students’ study in the US through his scholarship scheme. 

We are delighted to be able to honour these people with the highest accolade that the council can bestow upon someone – the Honorary Freedom of our Borough.

Meanwhile, Bishop Trevor Mwamba, who came to the borough in 2013, received the accolade for his help with various initiatives to help improve community cohesion and inter-faith relationships. 

The freedom of the borough was also given to 60s popstar Sandie Shaw, MBE, who was born and raised in the borough, in recognition of her musical achievements and community work, as well as for the new chief executive of Redbridge Council, Claire Symonds, who was acting chief executive of Barking and Dagenham Council during the Covid-19 pandemic and received the award in recognition of the workforce’s collective efforts over the last two years. 

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Housing, Cllr Saima Ashraf said: “We are delighted to be able to honour these people with the highest accolade that the council can bestow upon someone – the Honorary Freedom of our Borough.

“Being awarded this title is our way of recognising their outstanding dedication and service to Barking and Dagenham. These people have all gone above and beyond and we want to say thank you for being an inspiration and thank you for helping improve our community.”

There were two further honours dished out at the ceremony, Former Mayor Eileen Kellar and former Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and Schools, Evelyn Carpenter awarded as Honorary Alderwomen for their service and dedication to Barking and Dagenham. 

Cllr Ashraf added: “I’d like to congratulate Evelyn and Eileen. We are proud of all they achieved as local councillors, and thank them again for their service to the people of Barking and Dagenham.”

Photo credit: Jimmy Lee Photography