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Former Manchester United and West Ham footballer Paul Ince was among the four people who received Barking and Dagenham’s highest award, on Tuesday.
The midfielder was granted the Freedom of the Borough, along with social activist Dora Challingsworth, singer Sandie Shaw and acting chief executive of the council Claire Symonds.
Ince, 53, grew up on the Becontree Estate and went on to play for West Ham, Manchester United, Inter Milan and England.
He was the first black captain of the national side and was given the award for his anti-racism campaigning.
Challingsworth was also nominated for her campaign work. She led the women workers at Dagenham’s Ford factory on strike in 1984 and fought for them to be classified and paid as skilled workers.
Shaw, (real name Sandra Goodrich) who was born and raised in the borough, was chosen for her contribution to the arts. She was one of the most successful singers of the 1960s and performed Britain’s first ever win at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967 with her hit “Puppet on a String”.
Symonds was recognised for the work she has carried for the council during the coronavirus pandemic.
Council deputy leader Saima Ashraf said: “All of them are an inspiration to not only our community here in Barking and Dagenham, but people everywhere.
“I would like to personally thank them for all their good work, and I hope that they thoroughly enjoyed receiving their awards.”