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Fundraiser Michael Cullen – AKA Speedo Mick – is set to be honoured by his home city of Liverpool.
Fresh from his 78 day, 1,000 mile trek from John O’Groats to Lands’ End, he is one of a number of people and organisations being nominated for civic awards.
Despite having to battle through storms Ciara and Dennis – clad in only his swimming trunks – the 55 year old has smashed his target and has so far raised more than £350,000 from 17,000 individual donations.
The money is going to his charitable organisation ‘Leave the Light On’ – a Community Interest Company (CIC) which helps disadvantaged young people, together with mental health and wellbeing projects. It holds group therapy and activity sessions as well as celebrating those that have overcome adversity.
The lifelong Everton fan has been sober for 18 years but formerly suffered with drug and alcohol addiction, and also spent time on the streets.
His work has led him to be nominated for Liverpool Citizen of Honour, which formally recognises individuals who have made a significant, exceptional or unique contribution to enriching the image of the city and/or its citizens.
Meanwhile, TV and film producer Colin McKeown MBE, is being nominated for Freedom of the City – the city’s highest civic honour – for his almost 50 year career in the industry.
He was one of the founding fathers of Channel 4’s flagship soap ‘Brookside, set up Kirkdale-based LA Productions in 2000 and enjoyed continued success with the series ‘Liverpool 1’, the feature film ‘Liam’ and the NBC biopic ‘In His Life: The John Lennon Story’.
More recently, he has produced or executive-produced 11 series of the acclaimed BBC1 drama ‘Moving On’.
His most recent production is ‘Anthony’ a BBC drama about the murder of the teenager Anthony Walker in 2005 which is due to be transmitted later this year.
And the following organisations are being proposed for admittance to the Freedom Rolls of Association:
· The Parachute Regimental Association, Liverpool Branch
· City of Liverpool Lions Club
· The Girls’ Brigade Merseyside District
· Liverpool branch of the Royal Signals Association
The nominations will be considered at a meeting at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday 4 March, and separate ceremonies for each individual and organisation will be held at a later date
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Speedo Mick is an incredibly inspirational person who has turned his life around and is now committed to extraordinary feats of endurance to raise money to support others who are going through the issues that he faced. He has captured the imagination of not just the city but the entire nation with his most recent fundraising trek and is shining a much-needed spotlight on mental health.
“Colin McKeown has played a major role in creating and growing the TV and film industry in this city, through his work on Brookside and his own company, LA Productions.It is right and proper that the city recognises their outstanding work.”
Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Anna Rothery, said: “Liverpool is a city full of extraordinary characters who do amazing things to improve the life of others. Freedom of the City and Citizen of Honour awards are a chance for us to demonstrate that the cityvalues and appreciates their endeavours, and the people we are proposing are truly deserving nominees.”
Michael Cullen said: “I’m not a superhero – I’m just an ordinary man trying to do some extraordinary things. There’s a specific kind of insanity that makes the world a better place and I seem to have that in abundance!
“All I am trying to do is make a small difference in people’s lives by giving something back to society, and, by doing that, to my own as well. I have been overwhelmed with the support I have received from my home city – it chokes me up just talking about it – but it doesn’t surprise me.”
Colin McKeown said: “To even be associated with Freedom of the City is an absolute delight, it signals that your work and efforts are making a difference and fundamentally as a proud scouser that’s all I ever wanted to achieve. To live and work in this city, is a real privilege and therefore to be honoured by it is simply staggering.
“Coming from a humble background in Huyton, and working in a very deprived area in Kirkdale, I believe I am grounded in the reality of what is good about this city and I am extremely grateful that contribution has been found noteworthy.”
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