Search is on for next Tower Hamlets Freedom of the Borough award recipient

Naval Cmdr John  Ludgate receives Freedom of Borough award in 2018 from Tower Hamlets chief executive Will Tuckley 

Naval Cmdr John Ludgate receives Freedom of Borough award in 2018 from Tower Hamlets chief executive Will Tuckley - Credit: Mike Brooke

Nominations for the historic Freedom of the Borough award are open to “rare and only exceptional candidates” who could follow the footsteps of the Queen’s former representative in Tower Hamlets, Cmdr John Ludgate.

The retired deputy lieutenant was the first in the 21st century to be given the freedom award in 2018 after stepping down from his duties the previous year overseeing royal visits to the East End. 

Nominations are being considered until July 31 by Tower Hamlets Council's cross-party panel, which is chaired by Speaker Mohammed Hossain. 

“It is a rare honour to be awarded the Freedom of the Borough,” Cllr Hossain said. “This is an opportunity for exceptional people and organisations to be recognised for their achievements.” 

The panel is looking for nominations and wants to hear from people or communities who may not have considered making an application before, with the award to be announced later in the year. 

Cmndr Ludgate meets chief exec Will Tuckley for first time at 2015 Remembrance Sunday, Tower Hill

Cmdr Ludgate meets Tower Hamlets chief executive Will Tuckley for first time at 2015 Remembrance Sunday, Tower Hill - Credit: Mike Brooke

Cmdr Ludgate, the first to be given the Freedom of the Borough this century, was the Queen’s representative for 22 years after his retirement from the Royal Navy’s HMS President reserve base at Wapping in 1996.  


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He was also vice-chairman of the Cadets' Association and vice president of both the Marine Society and Sea Cadets Association, having served in the Royal Navy for 36 years. 

Cmdr Ludgate was known for his support of the outdoor activity centre at Shadwell Basin, the 31 Squadron Air Cadets at Mile End and for helping fundraising to preserve the last remaining working Victorian steamship, SS Robin, when it was moored at Millwall Docks.  

Retired Depty Lieutenant John Ludgate, former Queen's representative in Tower Hamlets

Retired deputy lieutenant John Ludgate, former Queen's representative in Tower Hamlets - Credit: Mike Brooke

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Cmdr Ludgate was nominated in 2018 for the freedom honour by Cllr Denise Jones, who represents Wapping.  

Other people who have been awarded the Freedom of the Borough since 1948, including in the former Metropolitan boroughs of Stepney, Bethnal Green and Poplar, include Clement Attlee, the Limehouse MP who became Britain's Labour Prime Minister in 1946, East End suffragette and social philanthropist Nellie Cressall and 1930s pacifist Muriel Lester who set up Kingsley Hall in Bromley-by-Bow where Mahatma Gandhi stayed in 1931.

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