Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson emphasised his pride at receiving his Freedom of the Borough of Croydon alongside Donna Fraser by saying receiving the award was something he could never have imagined.
Hodgson and four-time Olympian Fraser – both pictured above – were presented with the highest civic honour a local authority can give at a ceremony in Croydon Town Hall.
Hodgson said: “It’s very humbling. Having been born and brought up here in Croydon, to be given the Freedom of the Borough is something I could never have dreamt of.”
Donna added: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed. I haven’t been this nervous since I was an athlete! It just shows how much it means to me.”
Roy’s 40-year career spanned the likes of Inter Milan, Liverpool and England before he came to current club Crystal Palace for whom he was a youth player.
His childhood home was a ten-minute walk from Selhurst Park, and he played for his school team alongside two future Eagles managers, housemate Steve Kember and Lennie Lawrence.
He said: “Croydon is my town, so I couldn’t have been happier when I heard that I was to be honoured in this way.
“I’m proud of managing a team with such strong community links, with the foundations and the academy. We believe in Croydon, in representing Croydon, and we do as much we can for the borough.”
Donna’s career saw her compete at four consecutive Olympics, winning nine major sprint medals, but emphasises she ranks the award highly among her career achievements.
Currently Equality, Diversity and Engagement Lead at UK Athletics and a trustee for London Marathon Charitable Trust and Women’s Sport Trust, Donna grew up in Thornton Heath and ran for Croydon Harriers athletics club.
She stated: “Harriers saw me grow, they gave me the opportunity to compete. If the club need me and I can give back and inspire the next generation, I’m happy to do that.”
After retiring in 2009, the year she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Donna became a Breast Cancer Now ambassador, where she works to raise awareness.
“If I can have an impact on people around me then I’m happy to be there and do it. I’m always here, there and everywhere trying to make a difference.”
Councillor Tony Newman said of the two award winners: “They are hugely significant figures and role models. It was great to be able to champion these two very important people.”
Feature image courtesy of Lee Townsend, with thanks