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Inspirational five awarded Freedom of the Borough

FreedomOfTheBorough group shot

Group photo L-R Sister Christine Frost fcJ, Sufia Alam, Speaker of the Council, Cllr Mohammed Ahbab Hossain, Mayor John Biggs, Sir George Iacobescu CBE, Abdul Aziz Sardar and Jenny Symmons

The historic setting of the Tower of London played host to a special event which bestowed five inspirational people, who have given decades of service to Tower Hamlets, the borough’s highest honour the Freedom of the Borough.

At a meeting of the Council on Wednesday 13 October, councillors voted unanimously to award the Freedom of the Borough to Sufia Alam, Jim Fitzpatrick, Sister Christine Frost fcJ, Sir George Iacobescu CBE and Abdul Aziz Sardar.

As part of the meeting a number of councillors as well as members of the wider community gave their own tributes, explaining why those being nominated deserved the special honour for their years of service to the people of the borough.

This event marks just the second time in twenty years that the Freedom of the Borough has been awarded. The award was last given in 2018 to Commander John Ludgate (Retd.), who served as the Deputy Lieutenant for Tower Hamlets for 22 years.

In June this year the Speaker of the Council, Councillor Mohammed Ahbab Hossain launched a public consultation allowing nominations to be made to be considered by a cross-party panel which he chaired.

The Speaker of the Council, Councillor Mohammed Ahbab Hossain said:

“Our panel had the pleasure of considering a number of high quality and deserving nominations, which outlined inspirational examples of those who have gone far beyond the call of duty to dedicate themselves to the people of Tower Hamlets.

“It was after considerable discussion, with the knowledge of the unique importance of the award, that we agreed the final list of worthy candidates. I’m delighted that councillors have voted unanimously to award the Freedom to each of the candidates and congratulate them on achieving our borough’s highest honour.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said:

“It was a great privilege to be at the Freedom of the Borough ceremony and have the opportunity to pay tribute to five people who have dedicated years of service to our community, helping to transform the lives of thousands of our residents along the way.

“As a borough we pride ourselves on our sense of community spirit and all of our Freedom of the Borough recipients are fine examples of those who have given back to the community and created a lasting legacy that will be felt for many more years to come.”

A short summary of the citations for the five successful nominees is here:

Sufia Alam
In recognition of outstanding service to the community; founding and supporting initiatives to promote community cohesion and development through work at the Wapping Women’s Centre, East London Mosque and with Tower Hamlets Council. The organic community gardens on Berner Estate and the Wapping Women’s Centre Sure Start nursery are just two examples out of many.

Jim Fitzpatrick
In recognition of outstanding service to the community as a Member of Parliament for the Borough for over 20 years; showing commitment to constituents in the Houses of Parliament and his frequent presence in the borough as well as regularly encouraging residents to visit Parliament for an insight into how our government works.

Sister Christine Frost fcJ
In recognition of outstanding service to the community for over 50 years; setting up Neighbours in Poplar a charity working across Tower Hamlets, supporting community cohesion in partnership with elected representatives, volunteers, NGOs, charities, local businesses and multinationals to address the needs of the lonely, the vulnerable and the isolated.

Sir George Iacobescu CBE
In recognition of outstanding service to the community as an exceptional and inspiring business leader and in charitable and community activity. Responsible for driving the development of Canary Wharf, supporting small businesses and creating many thousands of jobs to make the borough a thriving global economic centre, with world class iconic new buildings like One Canada Square and the Crossrail station.

Abdul Aziz Sardar
In recognition of outstanding service to the community as a former councillor and civic Mayor for Tower Hamlets and a founding director of Poplar HARCA. Through decades of work in the community promoting a multicultural and multi faith Britain leading to the establishment of the Tower Hamlets Council of Mosques in 2001, working to bring all faith communities together.


The special Freedom of the Borough full council agenda papers include greater details on the successful candidates and the contribution they have made to the borough.

Jim Fitzpatrick was unfortunately unable to attend the meeting, but plans are being made for him to attend a future council meeting. His award was received on his behalf by his former colleague, Jenny Symmons.

The meeting took place in the historic New Armouries building within the Tower grounds, and dates back to the 1630s.

Posted on Thursday 14th October 2021