ED SHEERAN has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London at a ceremony which took place in the Lord Mayor of London's official residence.
As well as his considerable success and achievements in the music world, today’s award also acknowledged Sheeran’s work as charitable patron with the London Irish Centre (LIC).
Joining him in being admitted into the Freedom were LIC Creative Director, Gary Dunne, and Maeve Heath, who has volunteered at the LIC since 1977.
The ceremony at The Mansion House, was unique in the City’s history in inviting the recipients to respond “I so declare” in the Irish language, by way of acceptance of the Declaration of a Freeman, which was read aloud by the Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Court.
The Freedom nominations were supported by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny, who was born and educated in Dublin, and a City of London Corporation’s Business Performance & Transport Group Manager, Vince Dignam.
Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny, said:
“Ed Sheeran is one of our most remarkable and best-loved musical talents, and I am delighted to be acknowledging his contribution to the UK by supporting his Freedom of the City of London.
“As the first Irish National Lord Mayor, it also means so much to me to pay tribute to Gary Dunne and Maeve Heath, because their work with the London Irish Centre – alongside their other impressive achievements – underlines the warm friendship and cultural exchange between the capital and Ireland.”
Speaking about the honour, Sheeran said that it was a bonus to receive the award from London's first Irish National Lord Mayor.
“I think everybody knows how much I love London, and how much it’s been a part of my musical journey, so to receive the Freedom of the City today is something truly special.
“Doing so on the same day that we return to Wembley Stadium is also a beautiful thing.
“Thank you to everyone involved, and to the great City of London.”
“It is a great honour to get awarded for doing something that I love!" Maeve Heath said. "The London Irish Centre has been a part of my life for nearly 45 years. I could never do without it.
“It’s great to see the younger generation coming into the Centre and bringing all their new ideas. That’s the future, and it’s wonderful to see.
“Very special thanks to the Lord Mayor, and all my family and friends.”
Gary Dunne also said he was "honoured and humbled to receive the Freedom of the City of London."
"To do so with people I know and love makes it even more special. Míle buíochas to the Lord Mayor, my friends and family, and the countless Irish people who have helped to make this city what it is.”
Chief Executive Officer of the London Irish Centre, Séamus MacCormaic, said:
“It is a great privilege which instils enormous pride in us to see our volunteer, Maeve Heath, our colleague Gary Dunne, and our patron, Ed Sheeran, awarded the Freedom of the City of London.
“We thank Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny for recognising the contribution that the LIC has made to London, and we would encourage people to join us at the London Irish Centre to support our work and become part of that continuing Irish story in London.”
In the past 12 months, the LIC (londonirishcentre.org) delivered 12,346 free advice sessions, supported 10,000 hours of voluntary work, and showcased a virtual Irish culture programme to over 250,000 people.