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Freedom of the Borough awarded to Roy Hodgson and Donna Fraser

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Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson and four-time Olympian Donna Fraser have been awarded Freedom of the Borough, the highest civic honour a local authority can give.

Roy and Donna, who both grew up and went to school in Croydon, were nominated for their contributions to their communities as well as their sporting achievements.

Roy attended John Ruskin Grammar School and played for their school football team and has managed teams including Inter Milan, Copenhagen, Fulham, Switzerland, Liverpool and England.

Donna grew up in Thornton Heath and was a pupil at Winterbourne Junior Girls School, St Mary’s Catholic High School and Croydon College and raced for Croydon Harriers Athletics Club until her retirement in 2009. In a career that saw her compete in four Olympic Games, Donna also won gold at the 1991 European Junior Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece, and medalled at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She also medalled at World and European Championships.

Outside of her athletics career, Donna has been an ambassador for many organisations including Breast Cancer Now (after being diagnosed with the illness in 2009) and is a Trustee for the London Marathon Charitable Trust and the Women’s Sport Trust. Donna is also UK Athletics’ Vice President and Equality, Diversity and Engagement Lead.

Roy said: “It’s very much a special day, both an honour and a humbling experience.

“Croydon has played a massive part of my life and my formative years were spent here. I now make the same journey every day, and it is surreal going past so many places you know so well.

“It’s a great honour and I’m really happy to be given that honour.”

Donna said: “I’m ecstatic. When I told my parents they were going ballistic. My parents came here in the 1960s, they were told Croydon was the best place to be, and they’ve never left.

“It’s so overwhelming and it’s absolutely positive. This award is a huge platform to use to start conversations people may not want to talk about.

“I’d also like to say a huge thank-you. This is a great thing to celebrate and talk about.”

Councillor Tony Newman, leader of Croydon Council, said: “This has been a great evening and I’m delighted both Donna and Roy were here to receive Freedom of the Borough.

“We’re very privileged to be able to honour them for the positive work they’ve done, as people from Croydon, sporting personalities and role models.

“They’ve been hugely important figures in sport and we’re very proud of all they’ve achieved.”