Dame Shirley Bassey has been awarded the freedom of Cardiff, an honour which she told crowds was “probably more important” than receiving her royal title.

The 82-year-old became the first musician to be given the freedom of the Welsh capital at a ceremony at City Hall on Friday.

She joined world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, four Prime Ministers, 10 members of the royal family and Pope John Paul II in being given the ceremonial title in recognition of her 65-year career in music.

Dame Shirley, who was born in Tiger Bay and grew up in Splott, had her first number one single in 1959 and went on to achieve worldwide fame when she recorded theme songs to three James Bond Films – Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker.

She has become a global icon, winning dozens of lifetime achievement awards and selling more than 135 million records.

Dame Shirley Bassey greets the crowds

Dame Shirley told crowds at City Hall she was “emotional” ahead of the ceremony and that Wales, and “Cardiff especially”, was still important to her.

She said the award “is up there with becoming a Dame. It’s probably more so because not many people get freedom of the city. There are a lot of Dames around”.

Speaking after the ceremony, she said: “It was so emotional. I said I wasn’t going to cry and I did.

“When they were reading (my achievements) all out that was it. I was like ‘did I do all that?’.”

Speaking in Cardiff’s council chamber, council leader Huw Thomas said: “It’s fitting that Cardiff’s most iconic performer is the first musician and indeed the first person from the arts to have been awarded freedom of the city. Given the creative talent this city is now known for, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

“Her voice has provided the soundtrack to key moments in the life of our city and of our nation.”


Dame Shirley Basse with Mia Lloyd.

The award of freedom of the city is entirely ceremonial and is given by the council to honour the contribution made by an individual, association or organisation to Cardiff.

Leader of the opposition on the council, Adrian Robson, told Dame Shirley the award no longer comes with any special historic privileges.

He said: “You can’t herd your flock of sheep through Cardiff Castle, walk down Caroline Street with your sword held high, or choose to be hung by a silk scarf instead of a rope – actually, maybe it’s a good thing it’s a historic honour.”

Cllr Robson said it was an honour and a privilege to support the move to give Dame Shirley the award.

He said: “You have never forgotten your Tiger Bay background. You’ve taken those roots with pride around the world during your extraordinary career.”

Dame Shirley was also commended for her “tremendous” charitable work for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital.

Dame Shirley Bassey during the emotional ceremony

She was met on arrival by 12-year-old Mia Lloyd from Ceredigion, who  received treatment at Noah’s Ark for a rare type of cancer and in November 2017 she underwent an operation to amputate part of her left leg.

Mia is the first ever young ambassador for the Noah’s Ark Charity and has raised thousands of pounds and represented the charity at various events.

Dame Shirley Bassey receives the freedom of Cardiff

Speaking after the ceremony, Cllr Thomas added: I don’t think there’s a better defining image of a modern Wales than Dame Shirley in the middle of the stadium in red, white and green with a red dragon singing World In Union.

“I’m hoping this won’t be the last because if we’re doing more it means there are Cardiffians out there who are succeeding on behalf of this city. It will stay with me but I hope it’s not the last one.”



Source link