Borough freedom for fantastic four

COMMUNITY leaders who have inspired new sporting talent to fulfil their Olympic dreams have been honoured with Barking and Dagenham s highest distinction. Triple gold Paralympic swimmer Beverley Gull, 56, and Dagenham and Redbridge FC managing director St

COMMUNITY leaders who have inspired new sporting talent to fulfil their Olympic dreams have been honoured with Barking and Dagenham's highest distinction.

Triple gold Paralympic swimmer Beverley Gull, 56, and Dagenham and Redbridge FC managing director Steve Thompson, 49, received the Freedom of the Borough at Barking Town Hall, Town Square.

Jeremy West, 52, chairman of Living the Dream Trust, which gives financial assistance and support to the borough's Olympic hopefuls, also received the accolade.

Barking and Dagenham's first ethnic minority mayor, River ward Cllr Inder Singh Jamu, 71, was given the award for his outstanding service to the community.


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Beverley received the honour for her service to the community as founder member of the Barking Beavers Swimming Club, and her outstanding contribution to swimming.

She said: "I was amazed when I first heard about this. I felt like a bit of a fraud for being given such a wonderful accolade for something which has been so much fun.

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"This is just as important an achievement for me as the gold medals and the MBE because it recognises local achievements."

Mr Thompson was singled out for service to the community, in particular his work with youth sport.

He said: "I would like to thank everybody at the council who not only felt I deserved such an award, but laid on a great evening and ceremony.

"It really brought home exactly how much it meant. I would like to think the award wasn't just for me, but for Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club."

Mr West, boss of Dagenham's oldest business, West and Coe funeral directors in Rainham Road South, received the award for his outstanding service to the community and charitable work.

He said: "I was very honoured to receive it and I'm very humbled. It's a lovely award to have and something I will always treasure."

Hardial Singh Rai, 64, secretary of Barking and Dagenham Punjabi Welfare Association, paid tribute to Cllr Jamu and said: "He's the first Sikh to receive such an honour. We're so proud of him.

"It gives encouragement to young people to do some good work and go into politics.

"It highlights what he has done in the past 20 years. He's done so many things for community cohesion. I think he's an example to us all.

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