Lemn Sissay has been awarded an OBE, and has dedicated it to his younger self who overcame a “dehumanising” time in care.
The revered poet, author, broadcaster, and Chancellor of the University of Manchester was presented with the prestigious honour by Prince Charles during a ceremony at Windsor Castle yesterday, and admitted that his younger self who grew up in foster care and children’s homes in Wigan “would never have believed” he would become an OBE.
54-year-old Sissay – who was the official poet of the 2012 London Olympics – received the honour for services to literature and to charity.
Throughout his career, Sissay has not only seen the publication of nine of his books, the production of seven plays, and four further radio plays, but he has also made an impact by detailing his experiences in the British care system in his autobiography of his early life – My Name Is Why.
Born in 1967 in Billinge to an Ethiopian mother shortly after she moved to England to study, Sissay spent a significant part of his early life in care.
He was eventually taken into long-term foster care in Wigan, and named Norman Greenwood.
In 1995, he made a BBC documentary, Internal Flight, about his life, and his one-man show Something Dark – which detailed how he was given up as a baby – was adapted for BBC Radio 3 in 2006.
He became an MBE in the 2010 New Year Honours, and then took up his post as chancellor of the University of Manchester in 2015.
After receiving his honour for services to literature and charity from the Prince of Wales, Sissay said: “If I had said to him that one day you will be in Windsor Castle to receive an OBE from Prince Charles, I would never have believed that kind of magical story – almost fairy tale – would happen.”
He added: “If you can go to that boy – who lost his family, who left children’s homes at 18 years of age and didn’t know anybody for longer than a year at that age and had spent all of those Christmases alone – if you were going to say to that child that, ‘In your adulthood you are going to be honoured for what it is that you do and who it is that you are but you have got to turn it down…’
“I just could not do that to him. This is a way of being able to honour service and what you were born to be. I was born to be a poet.
“The service is the work [I have done] for care leavers, and it has come from my own experience.”
Kevin Sinfield is the ex-rugby player turned coach, ultra-marathon-runner and mega-fundraiser from our very own Oldham who did something truly amazing earlier this month.
The 42-year-old former loose forward, who currently serves as a defensive coach for the Leicester Tigers in the rugby union, has gone from a Manc-born sporting role model to a national hero thanks to his extremely admirable charity work over the past couple of years.
This bloke is a machine.
Seven ultra-marathons in seven days
For anyone unaware of Sinfield’s latest exploits, the former Leeds Rhinos player and director undertook the immense ‘Ultra 7 in 7‘ challenge earlier this month, tasking himself with the ridiculous feat of running seven ultra-marathons in seven days.
To put that into context, a standard marathon measures just over 26 miles or 42 kilometres; ultra marathons regularly clock in at 50km or more. Sinfield is said to have covered more than 256 miles (approx. 417km), averaging more than 60km a day. Insane.
Finishing the series of ultra-marathons alongside his dedicated team of runners on November 19 at Old Trafford, just in time for the 2022 Rugby League World Cup final, he was met with rapturous applause from the crowd — and rightly so.
The ex-Rhinos and England international set himself the target of raising £777,777 for Motor Neuron Disease in honour of his former teammate and equally inspiring close friend, Rob Burrows. He went on to absolutely smash that goal, amassing an incredible £1.4 million in donations in just a week.
Moreover, just last year he put himself through similarly unimaginable levels of strain by running a 24-hour marathon for the first time, raising over £1m for MND in November 2021 alone.
Again, this man is utterly remarkable.
Covering more than double the distance he managed the last time around, raising a total of over £2.3m across his two 7 in 7 ultra runs, it cannot be understated how much he has done for more than five different motor neuron disease charities in just a few short years.
Even before his latest heroics, Sinfield’s contributions to motor neuron awareness and fundraising were recognised by the local ouncil alongside record-breaking rower and Oldham native, Frank Rothwell, who were both bestowed with the little-known ‘Freedom of the Borough’ award back in March.
As for this year’s ultra-marathon challenge, his route saw him trek all the way from Edinburgh, through various parts of Yorkshire and, finally, back down to his home county of Greater Manchester. Not even bathroom breaks could stop him.
Compelled to run and raise as much as possible to support the MND community and honour Burrows, who was diagnosed with the disease back in 2019, Sinfield has made it his mission to help raise awareness and fund research into the rare condition which affects the brain and nervous system.
Joined by peers like footballer Stephen Darby as well as late rugby union colleague and fellow MND suffer Doddie Weir, who sadly passed away just last week, these and many more who supported Sinfield’s campaign have done untold levels of good when it comes to highlighting the disease.
Since beginning his fundraising journey in 2019, Kevin Sinfield has now raised over £7 million for the Motor Neuron Disease Association (MNDA) and related charities through his ultra-marathons and other charitable efforts, a miraculous and potentially fortune-changing amount that could save countless lives.
This absolute hero has already helped raise in excess of £2.6m all told with this year’s Ultra 7 in 7 alone, but if you want to join the millions of people still donating then you can do so HERE.
Featured Image — Wikimedia Commons/Hull FC/Leicester Tigers
This Manchester club has been shortlisted as one of the best in the UK
In a coup for the city’s clubbing scene, a huge venue in Manchester has been shortlisted as one of the best of its kind in the UK by this year’s DJ Mag awards.
Depot Mayfield, the home of Manchester’s infamous party series The Warehouse Project, is the only club in the north of England to make the shortlist – sitting alongside London venues Fabric, KOKO and Printworks, and Glasgow nightclub SWG3.
First opened in 2019, the 10,000 capacity venue has been home to some huge events – including MIF and Skepta’s mind-blowing futurist rave DYSTOPIA987 and Manchester Pride’s inaugural music event Pride Live, as well as innumerable shows for WHP over the past few years.
With three separate stages – Depot, Concourse and Archive – it has been home to an eclectic run of Warehouse Project shows, attracting ravers and gig-goers of all musical persuasions.
Now it has been recognised as one of the best large venues in the UK as part of the annual DJ Mag awards, widely considered to be one of (if not the) biggest authorities on the UK dance music scene.
The award ceremony takes place this December 15 in London’s The Steel Yard, in what is the first IRL award show since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
This year marks the 16th edition of the awards, an annual celebration of UK talent. Positioned as a counter-balance to the global Top 100 DJs poll, DJ Mag’s Best Of British awards are a chance to shine a spotlight on the homegrown talent that continues to place the UK scene at the forefront of electronic music.
The 2022 nominations are split across 22 categories, and the awards show in December will also see the return of three editorial choice categories, Outstanding Contribution, Innovation & Excellence and Game Changer.
Also shortlisted in this year’s awards is Manchester’s ‘Baddest of them all’ producer and DJ Interplanetary Criminal, whose BOTA remix with Eliza Rose went viral this year and hit number one in the UK singles charts this September.
Congo Natty Dance System Interplanetary Criminal Loraine James M1onthebeat
Breaka CeeBeaats Meg Ward Nia Archives Soul Mass Transit System
Bandokay MC Chickaboo Ivorian Doll Knucks Novelist
Bemz Chinx (OS) Iceboy Violet Jim Legxacy ShaSimone
AD 93 ec2a Phantasy Sound Trick XL Recordings
All Centre Over/Shadow Pretty Weird Sondela Recordings Time Is Now [Shall Not Fade]
DJ Q ‘Est. 2003’ [Local Action] Hagan ‘Textures’ [Python Syndicate] Hudson Mohawke ‘Cry Sugar’ [Warp] Kelly Lee Owens ‘LP.8’ [Smalltown Supersound] TSHA ‘Capricorn Sun’ [Ninja Tune]
PinkPantheress ‘to hell with it (Remixes)’ [Parlophone] V/A ”Club Entry’ Vol. 1′ [Borne Fruits] V/A ‘Hospital Mixtape: Lens’ [Hospital Records] V/A ‘Luke Una Presents É Soul Cultura’ [Mr Bongo] V/A ‘Touching Bass presents: Soon Come’ [Touching Bass]
Eliza Rose & Interplanetary Criminal ‘B.O.T.A. (Baddest Of Them All)’ [Warner Records x One House] Hamdi ‘Skanka’ [DUPLOC] Joy O ‘pinky ring’ [XL Recordings] LF System ‘Afraid To Feel’ [Warner Music] Nia Archives ‘Baianá’ [HIJINXX / Island]
KH ‘Looking At Your Pager’ [Ministry of Sound/Three Six Zero] Michael Bibi ‘La Murga (Michael’s Midnight Mix)’ Nick León ‘Xtasis feat. DJ Babatr (Pearson Sound Remix)’ [TraTraTrax] Tessela ‘Hackney Parrot (Bailey’s Techno Tool)’ Tirzah ‘Tectonic (FAUZIA Remix)’ [Domino]
Best Rap Album/Mixtape
CB ‘A Drillers Perspective 2’ [mayowahd] FLOHIO ‘Out Of Heart’ [AWAL] Horrid1 x Sav’O ‘Violent Siblings’ [CGM Records] Jeshi ‘Universal Credit’ [Because Music] Loyle Carner ‘hugo’ [EMI]
Best Rap Track
Darkoo ‘Always feat. Black Sherif’ (Prod. by Albert kweku Koranteng) [Atlantic Records UK] Giggs x Tiny Boost ‘The Family’ (Prod. by RichMadeRecords) [Self-released] Kojey Radical feat. Lex Amor ‘War Outside’ (Prod. by Swindle & Kztheproducer) [Asylum Records UK] LD x C1 ‘Hillside Demons’ (Prod. by JS OTP & Hilzz) [24 Hour Ent] Nemzzz ‘2MS’ (Prod. by Wydsonni) [Motown Records UK / EMI]
Best Radio Show
Emma Jean Thackray, Worldwide FM Ellie Prohan, KISS FM Felix Joy Breakfast Show, SWU Pure Spice with DJ Manara, BBC Asian Network Soup To Nuts, NTS
Best Large Club
Depot Mayfield, Manchester fabric, London KOKO, London Printworks, London SWG3, Glasgow
Best Small Club
Colour Factory, London Night Tales, London Strange Brew, Bristol Sub Club, Glasgow Ulster Sports Club, Belfast
Best Club Event
Club Blanco Distant Planet PXSSY PALACE Teletech Small Talk
Houghton Festival Naked City Festival Otherlands Music & Arts Festival Outlook Festival UK Queen’s Yard Summer Party
Best Boutique Festival
Field Maneuvers Freerotation KALLIDA Festival No Bounds Festival Watching Trees Festival
Underground Hero Recognising the champions of grassroots music communities
Double O & Mantra Jeremy Sylvester Lo Shea Man Power Sarah McBriar