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New ambassadors for Gateshead to be honoured

News update

Historian, producer and TV presenter David Olusoga OBE, local comedian Bobby Pattinson and former Leader of Gateshead Council, Mick Henry CBE, will become honorary Freemen of Gateshead.

At a Council meeting today (Thursday 23 November) Gateshead councillors agreed to give the prestigious honour to the trio, making them the latest in a very select group of individuals ever to become Freemen of Gateshead.

They will be presented with their honorary titles at a special ceremony due to take place in 2023.

David grew up in Gateshead, having been born in Nigeria. His early love of history and TV documentaries led him into a career in broadcasting which has given him a platform to make history more inclusive and more diverse. Having studied history to master's level he entered the TV industry, making TV documentaries, such as A House Through Time, Civilisations and Our NHS: A Hidden History. He is also an award winning author writing books such as Black and British: A Short, Essential History and his contribution to literature and television, which have inspired so many, resulted in the British Academy awarding him the President's Medal for 2021. He also received an OBE in 2019 for services to history and community integration.

David said: It is a wonderful to be honoured by my home town in this way. I'm from a generation who were told to get on our bikes. A generation too many of whom had to leave the North East for work. But like most of that generation I am a reluctant exile and remain deeply connected to the region in which I was brought up.

Bobby Pattinson, known as the Godfather of North East comedy, was born and has lived in Gateshead throughout his life. Having taken on a number of different jobs and being the youngest sergeant in the Army, Bobby got his first big break in show business when he won a national talent competition in London. His career went from strength to strength and has since performed in different parts of the world, rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in showbiz. He has also dedicated much of his time to raising money for Variety, a children's charity, and was awarded their highest honour 'The Silver Heart' in 2014 in recognition of him having personally raised over £100,000 for the charity.

Mick Henry stood down from Gateshead Council in 2019 after 33 years as ward councillor for Saltwell, serving 14 years as Leader of the Council. Throughout his time on the Council, Mick held very prominent roles including Chair of the Northumbria Police Authority, Association of North East Councils and the Diversity Forum. However he is most remembered for his role in the cultural regeneration of the borough, overseeing the opening of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead. He was awarded a CBE for services to local government in 2007. His keen interest in the arts and culture was also demonstrated away from the Council in his role as senior lecturer in photography at Northumbria University.

Mick said: "This honour means so much to me and I will always treasure it.

As Leader of the Council, I often spoke about the 'Gateshead Family', and I can't overstate how grateful I am to have been, and remain, a part of that family. The people of Gateshead allowed me, and those I worked alongside, to develop a vision for the Borough and strive towards making it a reality.

I'm deeply rooted in Gateshead, as is my family, past and present. I'm fiercely proud of those roots and I cannot imagine any honour that could mean more to me... or to my parents, who were also Labour councillors... than being awarded the Freedom of Gateshead. I believe it recognizes their service as well as mine and so I will cherish it for them as well as myself."

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: "To become a Freeman of the Borough is the highest honour that we can bestow, and we're very proud to be able to recognise David, Bobby and Mick in this way.

"Gateshead has an international reputation for creativity, for art and for achieving things beyond what others believe to be possible. We know how powerful culture can be as it has been at the heart of our borough's regeneration for the last 30 years. Awarding this honour recognises how David, Bobby and Mick have not only achieved so much in their field but have also done everything they can to promote culture, heritage and arts which has been to the benefit of Gateshead communities."

They will join a very select group who have been chosen to be Freeman of Gateshead including Sir Brendan Foster, Sir John Hall, Sir Antony Gormley, Rt Hon Baroness Joyce Quin, Jill Halfpenny, Stephen Miller and Royal Northern Sinfonia.

News update
24 November 2022

Historian, producer and TV presenter David Olusoga OBE, local comedian Bobby Pattinson and former Leader of Gateshead Council, Mick Henry CBE, will become honorary Freemen of Gateshead.

At a Council meeting today (Thursday 23 November) Gateshead councillors agreed to give the prestigious honour to the trio, making them the latest in a very select group of individuals ever to become Freemen of Gateshead.

They will be presented with their honorary titles at a special ceremony due to take place in 2023.

David grew up in Gateshead, having been born in Nigeria. His early love of history and TV documentaries led him into a career in broadcasting which has given him a platform to make history more inclusive and more diverse. Having studied history to master's level he entered the TV industry, making TV documentaries, such as A House Through Time, Civilisations and Our NHS: A Hidden History. He is also an award winning author writing books such as Black and British: A Short, Essential History and his contribution to literature and television, which have inspired so many, resulted in the British Academy awarding him the President's Medal for 2021. He also received an OBE in 2019 for services to history and community integration.

David said: It is a wonderful to be honoured by my home town in this way. I'm from a generation who were told to get on our bikes. A generation too many of whom had to leave the North East for work. But like most of that generation I am a reluctant exile and remain deeply connected to the region in which I was brought up.

Bobby Pattinson, known as the Godfather of North East comedy, was born and has lived in Gateshead throughout his life. Having taken on a number of different jobs and being the youngest sergeant in the Army, Bobby got his first big break in show business when he won a national talent competition in London. His career went from strength to strength and has since performed in different parts of the world, rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in showbiz. He has also dedicated much of his time to raising money for Variety, a children's charity, and was awarded their highest honour 'The Silver Heart' in 2014 in recognition of him having personally raised over £100,000 for the charity.

Mick Henry stood down from Gateshead Council in 2019 after 33 years as ward councillor for Saltwell, serving 14 years as Leader of the Council. Throughout his time on the Council, Mick held very prominent roles including Chair of the Northumbria Police Authority, Association of North East Councils and the Diversity Forum. However he is most remembered for his role in the cultural regeneration of the borough, overseeing the opening of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead. He was awarded a CBE for services to local government in 2007. His keen interest in the arts and culture was also demonstrated away from the Council in his role as senior lecturer in photography at Northumbria University.

Mick said: "This honour means so much to me and I will always treasure it.

As Leader of the Council, I often spoke about the 'Gateshead Family', and I can't overstate how grateful I am to have been, and remain, a part of that family. The people of Gateshead allowed me, and those I worked alongside, to develop a vision for the Borough and strive towards making it a reality.

I'm deeply rooted in Gateshead, as is my family, past and present. I'm fiercely proud of those roots and I cannot imagine any honour that could mean more to me... or to my parents, who were also Labour councillors... than being awarded the Freedom of Gateshead. I believe it recognizes their service as well as mine and so I will cherish it for them as well as myself."

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: "To become a Freeman of the Borough is the highest honour that we can bestow, and we're very proud to be able to recognise David, Bobby and Mick in this way.

"Gateshead has an international reputation for creativity, for art and for achieving things beyond what others believe to be possible. We know how powerful culture can be as it has been at the heart of our borough's regeneration for the last 30 years. Awarding this honour recognises how David, Bobby and Mick have not only achieved so much in their field but have also done everything they can to promote culture, heritage and arts which has been to the benefit of Gateshead communities."

They will join a very select group who have been chosen to be Freeman of Gateshead including Sir Brendan Foster, Sir John Hall, Sir Antony Gormley, Rt Hon Baroness Joyce Quin, Jill Halfpenny, Stephen Miller and Royal Northern Sinfonia.

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