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Tom Daley, Jadon Sancho and Sir Tommy Steele among local heroes honoured by Southwark for their achievements

26 May 2022

Community champions, local charities and well-known faces from Southwark were recognised for their extraordinary contributions to the borough at this year’s Civic Awards.

On Saturday 21 May, Southwark Cathedral hosted the annual joint Civic Award Ceremony and Annual Meeting of the Council. A traditional part of the annual meeting is where the next Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Southwark are appointed. Councillor Sunil Chopra received the Mayoral chain from outgoing Mayor Councillor Barrie Hargrove. His Deputy was named as Councillor Michael Situ.

Councillor Chopra said: “It is a privilege to be made the Mayor of Southwark. I am honoured to represent and promote the borough and the many exceptional individuals who make Southwark so proud. All of the award recipients are trailblazers in their own right. Many of them go under the radar as they enrich and empower our communities with little reward or recognition. I hope these awards show just how much we appreciate them.”

The Freedom of the Borough is the highest civic award Southwark Council can give to an individual. This year’s recipients of the honorary title ‘Freeperson of the Borough’ include:

Tom Daley OBE is an Olympic gold medal-winning diver who has lived in Southwark since 2014. At the 2021 Olympics, Tom became the first British diver to win four medals after taking home gold for the 10m platform diving competition. He is a passionate campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and supports many charities in the borough, particularly encouraging more residents to get into sport.

Jadon Sancho is a professional footballer who plays for Manchester United and the England national team. Praised as one of the best young players in the world, Jadon was born in Camberwell and represented Southwark at the 2011 London Youth Games team, where they won the under-11s football tournament. Last year, he was instrumental in bringing the England team into the final of a major football tournament for the first time in 55 years. Jadon has spoken out and acted upon racism, and exemplifies the values that the council holds in highest regard.

Eleanor Kelly is Southwark Council’s former Chief Executive who stepped down earlier this month. Her long career in public services began in 1974 when she became a trainee clerk. Starting from the most junior role, Eleanor worked her way up with strong values of kindness and consideration in her unwavering service to others. During her fifteen years at Southwark, Eleanor supported the borough, London and the country through some of their most challenging times. This includes the 2017 terror attacks in London Bridge and Borough, the local government response to the Grenfell tragedy, and her key role on the national COVID-19 vaccination programme. She has also been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, nurturing a culture of inclusion and respect across the council.

Stephen Bourne is writer and historian specialising in Black heritage and gay culture. He was born in Camberwell and remains living in the borough today. For his acclaimed book ‘Black Poppies’, Stephen received the 2015 Southwark Arts Forum Literature Award at the Unicorn Theatre on Tooley Street. Stephen has been an active volunteer within the community for many years: in 1995, he set up the Southwark LGBT Forum – the longest established lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) forum of its kind – and has spent the last 22 years as an independent advisor to Southwark Police.

Mary Phillip is a former international footballer who now manages Kent County League team Peckham Town. She was born in Peckham and joined Millwall Lionesses at 12 years old. While at Millwall, she began her coaching career. She took her first badge when she was seventeen, working with Southwark’s schools as part of Millwall’s community programme. Mary went on to be the first black player to captain an England women's international football team. Her passion for helping develop local young people has continued as head coach at Peckham Town, where she also manages the youth team.

Sir Tommy Steele OBE is an entertainer, regarded as Britain's first teen idol and rock and roll star. Born in Bermondsey in 1936, Tommy became known in the UK as the frontman for The Steelmen after their first single, ‘Rock with the Caveman’. He has graced the stage and screen many times over a successful acting career, including ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ on the West End and starring beside starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark in ‘Finian's Rainbow’.

The other civic awards were shared between 18 individuals, organisations and groups who demonstrate excellence in active citizenship. Atulkumar Patel received an award in recognition for the critical role his pharmacy played in the national COVID-19 vaccination programme. Many residents came forward for their jab thanks to the trust Mr Patel had built over a lifetime devoted to others. At one stage, Mr Patel had to open St. George’s pharmacy seven days a week, calling upon local volunteers and employing more staff to keep up with demand for the vaccine.

The Southwark Together award was introduced this year to celebrate those who go above the call of the duty in making Southwark a welcoming, safe, and tolerant borough. Reema Reid, head teacher of Hollydale Primary School, received an award for her outstanding contribution to Southwark Stands Together, the council’s borough-wide anti-racism initiative. Her role is voluntary and she lives her own leadership values, putting herself forward as an example of excellence in black, female achievement for her colleagues and pupils alike.

The Mayor’s Discretionary Award 2022 was presented to the Friends of Burgess Park for their work achieved during the Mayoral Year, maintaining activities and regular communications during the COVID period. The group of community volunteers was recognised for their ongoing and successful commitment to a much-loved park.

Page last updated: 26 May 2022