Sir Ian McKellen granted Freedom of London

Sir Ian McKellen was born in Burnley
Sir Ian McKellen was born in Burnley

Burnley-born actor Sir Ian McKellen will receive the Freedom of the City of London.

The actor has been nominated by Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf and John Bennett, the City of London Corporation’s Chief Commoner, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to acting and his high-profile campaigning work to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Sir Ian, who has a blue heritage plaque on Scott Park Road where he was said to be born, will be officially presented with the Freedom at the Guildhall on 30th October.

The 75-year-old’s extensive stage credits include Waiting for Godot, Othello, Richard III, Macbeth and King Lear while, on television, he has appeared in Coronation Street and Dr Who among others while his films include The Da Vinci Code, The Golden Compass and as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sir Ian is also co-founder of Stonewall, the LGBT campaigning group, and patron of LGBT History Month, Pride London and The Albert Kennedy Trust, which supports homeless and vulnerable LGBT young people.

His Freedom of the City of London ceremony will begin with him reading aloud the Declaration of a Freeman and end with him being greeted by Dr Peter Kane, Chamberlain of London, as a ‘Citizen of London’ and the presentation of his framed parchment certificate.

Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf said: “Sir Ian is an exceptional actor of international acclaim, whose repertoire ranges from Shakespeare and Pinter to Hollywood blockbusters and situation comedy. He is also a tireless campaigner for equality, for which I have the greatest admiration so it is entirely appropriate that we honour his achievements.”

The Freedom of the City of London is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade - such as driving sheep over London Bridge. Today, it helps to celebrate a significant achievement or to pay tribute to a person’s outstanding contribution to London life or public life.