May 22, 2024

Sunderland AFC icon Kevin Ball is poised to be bestowed with the city’s highest recognition. The latest selections for the Honorary Freedom of the City have garnered support from the Sunderland City Council’s cabinet, marking a move to honor two esteemed figures with prestigious civic accolades.

Sunderland legend Kevin Ball leaves club after 32 years | The Northern Echo

The Honorary Freedom of the City, esteemed as the city’s highest honor, is traditionally granted by Sunderland City Council to individuals who have made notable and positive contributions to the reputation and welfare of the city and its inhabitants.

Among the latest nominees is Kevin Ball, a Sunderland AFC legend with over three decades of involvement with the club. Described in a cabinet report as having earned a special place in the club’s history through his enduring popularity among supporters, Ball is hailed as an embodiment of the hardworking and sincere ethos of both the club and the city. Additionally, Gerard ‘Ger’ Fowler, an ex-serviceman known for his contributions to the Sunderland Armed Forces Partnership and his founding of Veterans in Crisis, is proposed as the second recipient of this distinguished award. Mr. Fowler, who also serves as a senior lecturer at the University of Sunderland, has garnered numerous accolades for his dedication to veterans, including the prestigious English Veterans Award for ‘leader of the year’.

A report submitted to the cabinet this week underscores the distinguished status of these individuals, recognizing them as “persons of distinction” who have rendered exceptional services to the city. Kevin Ball’s nomination acknowledges his exemplary commitment and achievements in the realm of sports and football, positioning him as an ambassador for Sunderland and a role model for the city’s youth. Similarly, Ger Fowler’s nomination celebrates his notable contributions to supporting the city’s veteran community, underlining his role as an ambassador for Sunderland and a source of inspiration for its youth.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, has previously lauded these nominations as well-deserved acknowledgments for the Freedom of the City. Speaking at City Hall, he emphasized the significant place that footballing legends hold in the hearts of Sunderland residents, alongside the city’s reputation for inclusivity and community spirit.

The cabinet of Sunderland City Council has endorsed the next steps for the Freedom of the City nominations on March 14, 2024, at City Hall. Pending approval at a future full council meeting, arrangements for a Freedom of the City ceremony will be announced in due course. The council’s chief executive, in collaboration with the council leader, will oversee the necessary arrangements for the formal ceremony at an extraordinary council meeting.

Sunderland City Council has a tradition of honoring noteworthy residents, groups, and organizations with the Freedom of the City. Past recipients include football champions Jill Scott and Steph Houghton, members of the Sunderland 1973 FA Cup Squad, esteemed figures from various sectors, and military units such as the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery and the crew of HMS Ocean, Sunderland’s former adopted warship.

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