Whittington Health Staff Made Freepersons of Islington

19 Oct 2021

The London Borough of Islington, where our hospital is located has awarded its highest honour - the Freedom of the Borough - to all Whittington Health staff!

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All of Whittington Health's staff were made honorary freepersons of the London Borough of Islington at a special ceremony held last night (18/10/21). The special ceremony took place at Islington Town Hall, and was attended by key council figures including Leader of the Council Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Mayor Cllr Troy Gallagher and Chief Executive Linzi Roberts-Egan.
 
The title of Honorary Freeperson is the highest honour the council can bestow. It is reserved for people and organisations who are exceptional in their service to the public.
 
The Freedom of the Borough award is a real tribute to our colleague's dedication, strength and professionalism, at all times, but especially over the past months of the pandemic as they have cared for Londoners in need.
 
Receiving the award on behalf of all Whittington Health staff, Siobhan Harrington, CEO of Whittington Health said: “Whittington Health staff have worked unimaginably hard to care for the people and patients who needed us during the Covid-19 pandemic and we continue to do so to ensure that everyone who needs care can be treated as quickly and safely as possible. Being awarded Freedom of the Borough of Islington is a touching tribute that I know will mean a great deal to all of my colleagues and is another example of the incredible support we have received from our community at our most challenging of times so my thanks go to Islington Council and the people of Islington for this recognition, which we accept with deep pride.”
 
Also awarded freeperson status at the ceremony were:
  • London Ambulance Service NHS Trust who have similarly, played a huge role in helping the people of Islington stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.
  • Jennette Arnold OBE. Jeanette first came to Islington as a child of the Windrush generation, and lived in the borough’s loving and supportive Montserratian community. Her family moved to Birmingham, and after qualifying as a State Registered Nurse, Jennette returned to Islington to work for the Royal College of Nursing. In 1994, she became a councillor in Islington and served for eight years, including a term as Deputy Mayor. In 2000, she was elected to the newly-formed London Assembly, at first on a London-wide basis, and then from 2004 until May 2021 as the Member for the North East constituency, covering Islington. Through her work, Jennette has improved the lives of countless local people as a tireless advocate for quality public services, workers’ rights, women’s safety, racial equality and many other important issues.
  • Yvonne Conolly CBE was recognised posthumously for her contributions to education. Having first qualified as a teacher in Jamaica, she arrived in Britain in 1963 with £36 in her pocket. After working as a teacher and deputy headteacher in Swiss Cottage, Yvonne became the UK’s first Black female headteacher, at Ring Cross Primary School in Holloway, when she was just 29 years old. She shone a path for the many children of colour who attended Ring Cross Primary and blazed a trail for other Black educators around the country in the face of prejudice and discrimination. Yvonne very sadly passed away earlier this year; she was described as a friend to all who knew her, and as a “history maker” by the Department for Education.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz said: "It is a great privilege to award the Freedom of the Borough to Islington's heroes who have done so much to improve the lives of local people. Yvonne Conolly and Jennette Arnold are both shining examples of local leaders whose years of public service have made life better for people in Islington. It is brilliant to be honouring these two fantastic Black women whilst we are celebrating Black History Month. Their accomplishments are truly appreciated here in Islington.
 
“Our brilliant health workers, too, are so richly deserving of this recognition. The last two years have shown just how massive their contribution is to life in the borough. They have worked so hard to keep us safe during the health crisis, which must have been exhausting and overwhelming at times. On behalf of Islington Council, I want to say that we are so grateful for their selfless service.”
 

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