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Lenny gets his gong as Dudley makes him a freeman of the borough
12:27pm Thursday 10th October 2013 in Local
DUDLEY paid tribute to one of its most famous sons at a gala evening to honour the borough's latest freeman.
Comedian and actor Lenny Henry CBE was officially awarded the Freedom of Dudley Borough at a prestigious event in the council house and town hall yesterday (October 9).
The star, who grew up in Douglas Road near Buffery Park, spoke of his pride at being recognised by his home town for his success in the entertainment business and his work to raise £800m for charity through Comic Relief.
Lenny Henry said: "I feel fantastic, it is a huge honour. This wasn't supposed to happen to me, I'm a black kid from Buffrey Park.
"Getting the Freedom of Dudley is amazing, living here taught me you have to work hard to get anywhere in life.
"I had the freedom of Dudley as a kid now I feel like it’s been made official.
“My family are incredibly proud of me. I grew up here and was raised here, I feel like this is a blessing."
During his visit to the council house where he saw his name in gold on the borough's roll of honour, Lenny also reflected on the future for his home town and how he uses Dudley as an inspiration in his work.
He said: "There was a worry the centre was losing out to Merry Hill but you get a really good vibe across the town. It is important we maintain our market town's roots and its institutions.
"Dudley is a bubbling place, there are things going on here - why not write stories about it. Dudleyans should be proud of who we are."
During his acceptance speech Lenny told his audience of family, friends, councillors and other Dudley freemen he believed there should be theatres or an arts centre for the community to nurture future generations of performers.
He also made light of the delay by Dudley councillors in confirming him as a freeman, an award usually bestowed on long-serving councillors or the military.
He said: "Freedom is amazing, I believe there was some kind of debate and it took 18 months to sort out - Crippen's trial only took two weeks.
"Thanks for coming round to it eventually."
Councillor Alan Finch, Mayor of Dudley, said: "It was a pleasure to meet Lenny Henry and honour him with the Freedom of the Dudley borough. It is fitting that he has become the first celebrity to receive this honour."
At the ceremony, Lenny was gifted an over-sized red glass nose, created by Wordsley glassblower Charlotte Hughes-Martin.
The bowling ball sized piece, made in lead crystal and designed to recognise the comic’s work with Comic Relief, was presented by Mayoress of Dudley, Mrs Heather Finch.
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