Islington’s local heroes

Mayor's Civic and Ben Kinsella Award Winners 2024 - alongside the Mayor of Islington and Sophie Cloutterbuck from London Metropolitan University (LMU)

Meet this year’s Civic and Ben Kinsella Award-winners

Each year, the borough recognises and celebrates its local community heroes with the Mayor’s Civic Awards and the Ben Kinsella Award, a special award given to a young person who has made an outstanding contribution to life in the borough.

From dedicated volunteer gardeners to lifelong teachers who have always put the local community first, these winners are the very best of Islington and go above and beyond to help others. 

The winners of these awards are all integral parts of the local community in Islington and were chosen by a panel chaired by the Mayor of Islington, Cllr Gary Heather, and were announced at the awards ceremony at Islington Assembly Hall last week. All winners were gifted an award, certificate from the Mayor, and a voucher to use at independent shops in Islington. 

Meet our community heroes: Ben Kinsella Award

The winner of the Ben Kinsella Award 2024 is Hope Gallagher, who has been recognised for her volunteering at Prospex, where she has supported the girl’s group and is taking part in the young leader’s programme too.

Meet our community heroes: Mayor’s Civic Awards

Caroline Benford was praised for decades of service to her local community, including raising money and leading community lunch clubs at Goodinge Community Centre and painting murals.

Anne Cartwright was awarded for her work at the Manna drop-in centre at St Stephens Church Canonbury, supporting people who are vulnerable, marginalised, or experiencing homelessness. Anne has been described as an inspiration.

Omar Elhabassi was recognised for his work with 9F (Islington) Air Cadets, through which he supports young people from diverse backgrounds with opportunities to develop and flourish. As a committed and talented coach, he sees potential in everyone and is someone the cadets look up to.

Lucy Kilborn was awarded for her 15 years of voluntary gardening work at Barnsbury Square Gardens and serving as Chairperson of Friends of Barnsbury Square for 7 years, during which she was instrumental in achieving the 2022 and 2023 Green Flag Community Awards for the park.

Callum McCann was honoured for his voluntary work as a Peer Advocate for Islington Youth Justice Service, where he helps local community projects, working in partnership with the Police and supports events for young people. Callum is also a Peer Mentor with The Zone Youth Club.

Ameena M. McConnell was awarded for founding and running Living Space Art School, a Black-led art school which teaches arts to the elderly supporting their wellbeing and building a community partnership with the Jamaican High Commission to host an annual showcase of the work created by the Art School.

Sawsan Salim was awarded for founding the Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women’s Organisation which has become a specialist charity providing holistic services ‘run by and for’ minoritised Kurdish, Middle Eastern and North African women and survivors of domestic violence.

Sazan Salih (pictured) accepted the award on Sawsan’s behalf.


Nitsa Sergides was recognised for her community leadership in Islington. Nitsa was a Headteacher and teacher in Islington for more than 50 years, established and ran St John’s Greek School for 20+ years, as a Trustee of St Anthony’s & St John the Baptist supporting the local foodbank.

Sponsors of the Mayor’s Civic Awards

The London Metropolitan University was the primary sponsor of the awards evening. Other sponsors of the event, included Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) part of social enterprise Better, the charity London Grid for Learning Trust (LGfL) and Civica.

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