Culture

TV historian and former Leader awarded Freedom – Gateshead Council


Historian, producer and TV presenter David Olusoga OBE and former Leader of Gateshead Council, Mick Henry CBE, have been given the Honorary Freedom of Gateshead.

Mick was recognised for his service as a member of the council for 33 years and as Leader of the Council from 2002 to 2016; his outstanding personal contribution to the regeneration of the Borough and the quality of life of its citizens; and his distinguished service to local government in the north east and nationally and David has received the honour for his services as a broadcaster, writer and academic;

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 is a huge honour not just for me, but for my family, and my parents would have been incredibly proud of me receiving the Freedom of Gateshead.”

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: “Sometimes the emotion of an occasion is overwhelming and today that has been the case. This is not just a huge honour for me, and my family, but it is also the perfect opportunity for me to thank Mick Henry and the council for the discretionary grant they awarded me, years ago, which has been pivotal in my life.”

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 Mick and David in this way. Each of our Freemen have made a significant contribution to Gateshead – leaving a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come and Mick and David are no different

“We are incredibly proud of our culture, diversity and heritage here in Gateshead and we want to give everyone the opportunity to thrive. Through the use of their own personal experiences and passions both Mick and David inspire others to make a difference within our local communities.”

Other Freemen of Gateshead include Sir John Hall, Sir Brendan Foster, Rt Hon Baroness Quin, Jill Halfpenny, Stephen Miller and Bob Moncur.

Following the ceremony David met with students from the Gateshead Youth Assembly, Emmanuel College, Grace College, Thorp Academy and Whickham School for a question and answer session.

04 December 2023

Historian, producer and TV presenter David Olusoga OBE and former Leader of Gateshead Council, Mick Henry CBE, have been given the Honorary Freedom of Gateshead.

Mick was recognised for his service as a member of the council for 33 years and as Leader of the Council from 2002 to 2016; his outstanding personal contribution to the regeneration of the Borough and the quality of life of its citizens; and his distinguished service to local government in the north east and nationally and David has received the honour for his services as a broadcaster, writer and academic;

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 is a huge honour not just for me, but for my family, and my parents would have been incredibly proud of me receiving the Freedom of Gateshead.”

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: “Sometimes the emotion of an occasion is overwhelming and today that has been the case. This is not just a huge honour for me, and my family, but it is also the perfect opportunity for me to thank Mick Henry and the council for the discretionary grant they awarded me, years ago, which has been pivotal in my life.”

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 Mick and David in this way. Each of our Freemen have made a significant contribution to Gateshead – leaving a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come and Mick and David are no different

“We are incredibly proud of our culture, diversity and heritage here in Gateshead and we want to give everyone the opportunity to thrive. Through the use of their own personal experiences and passions both Mick and David inspire others to make a difference within our local communities.”

Other Freemen of Gateshead include Sir John Hall, Sir Brendan Foster, Rt Hon Baroness Quin, Jill Halfpenny, Stephen Miller and Bob Moncur.

Following the ceremony David met with students from the Gateshead Youth Assembly, Emmanuel College, Grace College, Thorp Academy and Whickham School for a question and answer session.

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Ellis Wilder

Hey there! My name is Ellis Wilder, and I'm a student at the University of Calgary. When I'm not hitting the books, you can usually find me writing articles for sports and travel blogs. I've always had a passion for exploring new places and experiencing different cultures, so I love sharing my travel stories with others. Whether I'm hiking in the Rocky Mountains or exploring a new city, I always try to capture the essence of the places I visit in my writing. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them!

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