Dawn Hill, chair of Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives, received a major award in this year’s new year’s honours list.
She was made a CBE – Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – for her “pivotal contribution to recording and celebrating Black history and heritage in the UK”.
Earlier this year she was also recognised by the prime minister for her leadership and for the importance of the BCA with a Points of Light award presented at the No 10 Downing Street Black History Month reception.
The BCA said the award was in recognition of Hill’s “resolute commitment and dedication to culture, along with other complementary achievements”.
She has been a trustee of the archives since 1988 and chair from 2012.
Since then, BCA, which highlights and celebrates the lives of people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK, has secured £6.9m of National Lottery and other funding to help launch its purpose-built facility on Windrush Square in a Grade II listed Georgian building with a new purpose-built annex.
BCA director Paul Reid said: “For approximately three decades, Dawn has been a leading light in the development and delivery of this award-winning facility and inserting largely unknown Black history into British and global history”.
BCA engages 50,000 learners and visitors a year and champions Black history in British cultural and heritage life.
Dawn Hill has championed an inclusive approach to the study of Black history that is accessible to all – from school children to senior citizens and from local residents to tourists from abroad.
She said: “I am delighted to have been awarded a CBE and feel thrilled to have received it.
“I hope that the award helps to advance our cause to appropriately recognise the tremendous contributions that African and African-Caribbean people have made to these shores and, as importantly, how we can all perform a role to ensure that we learn from each other and fully appreciate what we continuously contribute to British cultural life.”
Hill’s other achievements span education and health and include:
- Trustee, Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal and President Mary Seacole (Legacy) Trust;
- Governor (elected patient representative) at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust from 2009 to 2015 and a non-executive director from 1999 to 2007;
- Governor, Evelina Children’s Hospital School, St Thomas’ Hospital;
- Panel member, Lambeth education appeals – admissions, exclusions and employee dismissals;
- Member of the Lambeth library commission, 2011
- Chair of management board, Blackliners HIV & AIDS and Sexual Health Services;
- Chair of Governors, Norwood Girls School, Lambeth, 1992 to 2000;
- Board member, African and Caribbean Family Mediation Service;
- Founder (1972) and management advisor, Rainbow Community Nursery, Hackney.
BCA recently launched its We Are One fundraising campaign to ensure that BCA is a lasting institution and legacy.
Another honour for someone with a Brixton connection went to Marc Vlessing, chief executive officer of Pocket Living.
He was awarded an OBE for “services to housing delivery”.
Pocket Living completed its third project in Lambeth earlier this year with the opening of 25 “affordable” one-bedroom homes for local first-time buyers in Wynne Road SW9.
Pocket, established in 2005, has so far built 127 of its “compact” homes in three Lambeth developments. They are sold outright at a discount of at least 20% on the surrounding market rate.