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Five granted Freedom of the Royal Borough
Awards were presented to Bradley Hemmings MBE, Bob Harris, The Rt. Hon Nick Raynsford, Neil Rhind MBE FSA and Dr Jagir Kaur Sekhon OBE at Woolwich Town Hall on 17 May.
The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Councillor Olu Babatola, said: “The Freedom of the Borough is the highest civic honour that we can give. Awarding it to these outstanding people for their tireless service is a fitting way to show our gratitude and appreciation. Their actions are truly inspirational and have made a huge difference to the lives of our residents.”
Bradley Hemmings MBE has created, shared and produced some of the finest outdoor art in the UK and beyond over the past three decades. He was commissioned to produce the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the annual Liberty Festival in Trafalgar Square and Stoke Mandeville Annual Paralympic Celebration. Yet Mr Hemmings MBE – who used to be the Council’s culture officer and curated the original Greenwich Festivals - has never lost sight of his roots. He established Greenwich and Docklands Festivals in 1995 and every year his varied programme entertains, challenges and delights – attracting visitors from across the country and boosting the local economy. Mr Hemmings MBE is also a founding member of the Royal Greenwich LGBT group working on our own pride celebrations with several partners and is working with Peabody for this year’s Thamesmead Arts Festival.
“Having worked in Greenwich since 1986, I'm very proud indeed to receive this honour and I'm enormously grateful to the Royal Borough of Greenwich, which has supported me and shown such consistent commitment to free outdoor arts over many years,” Mr Hemmings MBE said. “In accepting this honour I would like to pay tribute to Greenwich's tremendous civic commitment to culture, as well as to all the many artists, colleagues, organisations, participants and audiences who have together made, and continue to make, Greenwich the culturally dynamic and compelling place that it is and will always be.”
Bob Harris, past Chamber President and current Chamber member, served as a Councillor from 1990 to 2002 and played a key role in developing the Royal Borough’s cultural agenda. He was instrumental in securing the Dome coming to Greenwich and worked for many organisations including the London Tourist Board, London Arts Board, Emergency Exit Arts and South East London Chamber of Commerce. He also worked with the University of Greenwich to develop a regeneration agenda for South East London and played a key role in bringing Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication to the Borough.
The Rt. Hon Nick Raynsford was an MP for the Borough from 1992 to 2015. He was Shadow Minister for Housing and Construction and front bench spokesman for London, holding several positions in Government. The Right Hon Raynsford was also responsible for the implementation of the Decent Homes Standards and campaigned to deliver the Olympics and Paralympics to the Borough plus bring a Crossrail station to Woolwich and an underground rail connection to North Greenwich.
Neil Rhind MBE FSA is a prolific local history author and has helped preserve Blackheath for many years. He was influential in helping to save Blackheath Halls and the Conservatoire, plus preserve Westcombe Woodlands. He has helped ensure the Heath remains open for all to enjoy and also donated his enormous archive of local materials and images to the Blackheath Society.
Dr Jagir Kaur Sekhon OBE has been an outstanding volunteer for over 30 years, working with the Sikh community to help foster community understanding. She served as a Councillor for 20 years, was Mayor and has received many awards and accolades for her work. These include an OBE, an honorary doctorate from the University of Greenwich and the Videsh Samman by the High Commissioner of India in recognition of her efforts to help improve Indo-UK relations.
Previous recipients of the Freedom of the Borough include Doreen Lawrence, The Duke of Edinburgh and Nelson Mandela.