Celebrating Key Workers with Freedom of South Tyneside
The conferral of the Freedom of the South Tyneside to local NHS, care services and key workers, is set to be considered at an Extraordinary Meeting of Borough Council next week (Thursday 9 March).
In May 2020, Cabinet Members endorsed that local NHS, carers and other key workers, should be awarded with the highest honour the Council can award in recognition of their contribution to keeping local people safe and ensuring the delivery of essential services during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Given the challenges of the pandemic, it was not felt safe to seek to bestow the honour at that time.
The conferral will now be considered during the Extraordinary Meeting, which is taking place at 5pm in South Shields Town Hall and attended by representatives of all the different key worker sectors. The Borough Council meeting at 6pm will follow the Extraordinary Meeting.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "During the Covid-19 pandemic, we made a declaration to celebrate and thank the thousands of local key workers who provided essential services and support to local residents.
"They placed themselves on the frontline, working during lockdowns and times of great uncertainty.
"The Freedom of the Borough is the highest award the Council can bestow on any individual or organisation and we delighted to be able to honour and celebrate the extraordinary contribution and dedication of our amazing NHS, care services and key workers in this way."
The formal conferral ceremony will be livestreamed YouTube giving all key workers the opportunity to be part of the event, see .
The ceremonial scroll will then be put on display within South Shields Town Hall, with smaller paper copies made available to any key worker to collect from the town hall after the event.
Only 11 other people or organisations have been awarded the Freedom of South Tyneside since 1981. These include the Citizens of Wuppertal, 205 (3rd Durham Voluntary Artillery) Battery Royal Artillery (volunteers), South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and, more recently, Ray Spencer MBE.
In addition to the Freedom of the Borough conferral, covid memorials will be unveiled simultaneously at 11am on Sunday 12 March,at six sites across the Borough:
- South Marine Park, South Shields;
- West Park, Jarrow;
- Fountain Park, Hebburn;
- Cornthwaite Park, Whitburn;
- Front Street, Cleadon (adjacent to Cleadon Village Community Room);
- Boldon Colliery (land between Gibson Court and Hubert Street).
The memorial stones will serve as lasting tributes to those who lost their lives to covid as well as acknowledging the extraordinary efforts and resilience of local communities - from key workers to volunteers - at the height of the pandemic.
The inscriptions on each of the memorials reflect the experiences of local areas and were determined by local people and community groups in a collaboration with the Council's creative partners, The Cultural Spring.
South Tyneside is the latest among many areas to install memorial structures reflecting on the impact of the crisis.