Mayor's Civic and Ben Kinsella Award Winners 2024 - alongside the Mayor of Islington and Sophie Cloutterbuck from London Metropolitan University (LMU)

Islington’s unsung heroes recognised with awards ceremony

Islington has celebrated local community heroes and their amazing contributions to the borough in a glittering awards ceremony.

The Mayor of Islington, Cllr Gary Heather, last night (Thursday 21 March) presented the Mayor’s Civic Awards to eight Islington residents whose contributions to the local community go above and beyond to make Islington a more equal and inclusive community.

Also recognised in the ceremony at Islington Assembly Hall was the winner of the Ben Kinsella Award, a youth award that recognises the remarkable contributions of a young Islington resident aged 18 and under.

The Mayor’s Civic Awards were awarded to:

  • Caroline Benford, for decades of service to her local community, including raising money and leading community lunch clubs at Goodinge Community Centre and painting murals.
  • Anne Cartwright, for her work at the Manna drop-in centre at St Stephens Church Canonbury, supporting people who are vulnerable, marginalised, or experiencing homelessness. Anne has been described as an inspiration.
  • Omar Elhabassi, for his work with 9F (Islington) Air Cadets, through which he supports young people from diverse backgrounds with opportunities to develop and flourish. As a committed and talented coach, he sees potential in everyone and is someone the cadets look up to.
  • Lucy Kilborn, for her 15 years of voluntary gardening work at Barnsbury Square Gardens and serving as Chairperson of Friends of Barnsbury Square for 7 years, during which she was instrumental in achieving the 2022 and 2023 Green Flag Community Awards for the park.
  • Callum McCann, for his voluntary work as a Peer Advocate for Islington Youth Justice Service, where he helps local community projects, working in partnership with the Police and supports events for young people. Callum is also a Peer Mentor with The Zone Youth Club.
  • Ameena M. McConnell, for founding and running Living Space Art School, a Black-led art school which teaches arts to the elderly supporting their wellbeing and building a community partnership with the Jamaican High Commission to host an annual showcase of the work created by the Art School.
  • Sawsan Salim, for founding the Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women's Organisation which has become a specialist charity providing holistic services 'run by and for' minoritised Kurdish, Middle Eastern and North African women and survivors of domestic violence.
  • Nitsa Sergides, for her community leadership in Islington. Nitsa was a Headteacher and teacher in Islington for more than 50 years, established and ran St John’s Greek School for 20+ years, as a Trustee of St Anthony’s & St John the Baptist supporting the local foodbank.

This year's recipient of the Ben Kinsella Award is Hope Gallagher, who has been recognised for her volunteering at Prospex, where she has supported the girl’s group and is taking part in the young leader’s programme too.

Mayor of Islington, Cllr Gary Heather, said: “In our diverse and welcoming borough, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our communities, honouring those who tirelessly strive to support those around them. Particularly in these challenging times, our community heroes serve as beacons of hope and solidarity amidst adversity.”

Each winner was presented with a certificate and award from the Mayor of Islington, Cllr Gary Heather. And the awards ceremony was hosted by award-winning stand-up comedian and comedy writer Gráinne Maguire and included musical performances by Union Chapel Singers.

The award winners were chosen by a panel which included the Mayor.

The London Metropolitan University was kindly the primary sponsor of the awards evening. Additionally, other sponsors of the event, included Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) part of social enterprise Better, the charity London Grid for Learning Trust (LGfL) and Civica.

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