Freedom of the City of London awarded to pioneering Black cricketer

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Freedom of the City of London awarded to pioneering Black cricketer
City of London corporation

Roland Butcher, who is recognised as the first Black cricketer to play for England, has received the Freedom of the City of London at Guildhall.

One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients, who were also required to join a Livery Company, to carry out their trade.

As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.

Born in Barbados, Butcher represented Middlesex between 1974 and 1990, gaining a reputation as a talented middle-order batter. He played for England in three Test matches and three One Day internationals. He made his Test debut at Bridgetown in 1980-1981.

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Butcher retired from playing professional cricket in 1990. He was nominated for the award by City of London Corporation Elected Members, Andrien Meyers, and Keith Bottomley.

Speaking before his ceremony, Butcher said: “It is a great honour, a privilege, and humbling to receive the Freedom of the City of London. I have been fortunate to visit so many great places, but London is, by far, my favourite.”

City Corporation elected Member, Andrien Meyers, said: “Keith and I were delighted to put forward Roland for his Freedom which not only recognises his notable achievements in cricket, but also what an inspirational and pioneering figure he was in the game.”

The City Corporation’s Deputy Policy Chairman, Keith Bottomley, said: “Roland is clearly both honoured and humbled to have received the Freedom of the City of London, of which we are rightly proud.

“He will surely be delighted to know that he is following in the footsteps of other distinguished cricketers, including Sajid Mahmood, Michael Holding, Sir Alastair Cook, and Ebony Rainford-Brent.”

England and Wales Cricket Board Interim Chief Executive Officer, Clare Connor, said: “We are delighted that Roland has received the Freedom of the City of London. As the first Black cricketer to play for England, Roland was a trailblazer on the field, and this award rightly recognises his achievements and the impact that he has had on our sport.”

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