Gary Bennett awarded Freedom of the City of Sunderland: “I was born in Manchester, but I was made in Sunderland”

Written by on 9th March 2023

Anti-racism campaigner Gary Bennett was awarded the Freedom of the City of Sunderland on Wednesday night (March 8).

Gary Bennett was awarded Freedom of the City of Sunderland on Wednesday night at Sunderland City Hall (image taken by Nathan Bell)

The event at Sunderland City Hall saw Bennett, along with Lionesses Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, formally given the award, which Sunderland City Council say is awarded to those who are valued members of the community.

His acceptance speech took on a celebrative tone as Sunderland came together to honour one of its football club’s greatest icons.

He said: “I’d like to say thank you to the Mayor of the City of Sunderland, the council and especially the people of Sunderland.

“Since day one, since I came in 1984, they’re the ones who has got right behind me and supported me, and to get me to where I am today, and I’ve got to thank everybody in the city of Sunderland for that and to make me welcome.”

Bennett also paid tribute to the University of Sunderland, where he led the men’s and women’s football teams to great successes, as well as the other recipients of this honour, Houghton and Scott.

“I’d like to thank Steph Darby [Houghton’s marital surname] and Jill Scott on your achievements and commitments in women’s sport and your honorary freedom of the city.

“I would like to thank my wife, my family, Show Racism the Red Card… we’ve just hit one million people that we’ve naturally made contact with which is a fantastic achievement. And again, it makes it so special that it’s from the north east as well.

“I would like to say thank you to everybody, but also with my last words I want to say ‘I was born in Manchester, but made in Sunderland.'”

The council meeting was livestreamed, and can be viewed here.

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