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Three footballing freedoms conferred

Footballing champions have received their freedoms of Sunderland.

Freedoms Feb 2023

Freedoms are traditionally given by Sunderland City Council to citizens who 'make significant contributions to the wellbeing and community spirit of Sunderland'.

Former Sunderland AFC Ladies and England 'lioness' Stephanie Darby (nee Houghton) MBE and former Sunderland AFC star Gary Bennett MBE both received their freedoms in a ceremony at Sunderland City Hall.

Steph who captained the squad in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup has won more than 100 caps and was appointed MBE in the 2016 New Year Honour for her services to football.

Gary is fifth in the SAFC all-time appearance league and has been a stalwart of the Show Racism the Red Card campaign. In 2022 he received an MBE for his services tackling racism in football.

Speaking at the ceremony, Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller said: "They are both very special people and are held in the highest esteem by the people of this devoted, football-loving city."

A freedom was also awarded to Jill Scott MBE another former Sunderland AFC Ladies and member of the championship winning England women's 'lionesses' squad that delighted the country last summer. She was unable to attend the ceremony.


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