60s pop star among those presented with Freedom of the Borough awards

(L-R) Claire Symonds, Bishop Trevor Mwamba, Sandie Shaw and David Dickson wear medals

(L-R) Claire Symonds, Bishop Trevor Mwamba, Sandie Shaw and David Dickson wear medals after being presented with the Freedom of the Borough - Credit: Jimmy Lee

A pop star was among those who received Freedom of the Borough awards at Barking Town Hall.

Dagenham-born Sandie Shaw, who topped the charts in the 1960s and won the Eurovision Song Contest, was given the honour in recognition of her musical achievements and community work.

She was one of five people to be presented with the accolade during a ceremony on Friday, May 27.

Another to receive the award was former headteacher David Dickson. 

David worked at Eastbury Community School in Barking for more than two decades, rising from being deputy head through to headteacher and executive head before retiring at the end of last year.

Businessman-turned-philanthropist, Martin J Sullivan, received the honour for his investment and dedication to the young people of the borough.

Now based in America, the Dagenham-born man helped students to study in the US through his scholarship scheme. 

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. 

Claire Symonds, who was acting chief executive of the council before moving to become chief executive of Redbridge Council, was also presented with the honour after leading the borough during the Covid pandemic.

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Deputy council leader 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.”

The ceremony also saw former mayor Eileen Keller and ex cabinet lead for education Evelyn Carpenter awarded the title of honorary alderwomen for their service and dedication to Barking and Dagenham. 

Cllr Carpenter held the cabinet role from 2014 until she decided not to stand for election in May.

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.”