Pride of Islington
Islington’s brave officers and firefighters and the Pearly King and Prince of Finsbury have been awarded the Freedom of the Borough in recognition of their major contribution to borough life.
Islington’s firefighters have kept the borough safe since 1865. Crews were among the 250 firefighters who attended the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. In 2017 they attended more than 3,800 incidents.
“Our firefighters and officers are honoured to have been given this prestigious award,” said Islington Borough Commander Gary Squires. “They arrive at the start of their shift every day not knowing what incidents they will be called upon to attend, and no matter what time of day they are called out, they attend with the same levels of commitment and professionalism. They do not come to work expecting to receive praise or rewards however they are gratefully received.”
Two men who are also the pride of Islington are John and Darren Walters, the Pearly King and Prince of Finsbury. They took on the roles 13 years ago, taking up John’s wife’s family tradition, and together have helped to raise thousands of pounds for charities in Islington and other London boroughs.
John was born in 1947 in Finsbury, just off Old Street. He was a pupil of St Luke’s School in Old Street and has often returned to talk to the children about his time there, and what it’s like to be the Pearly King of Finsbury.
Darren was born in the Royal Free Hospital in Liverpool Road in 1973 and went to school at St John’s Upper Holloway Primary and Acland Burghley Secondary School.
In the last 10 years the family have given over £20,000 to charities in Islington and surrounding boroughs. The funding is raised with the help of their colleagues in the London Pearly Kings and Queens Society.
John said: “Two words come to mind – honour and privilege. It’s an honour to receive this award from the council and it’s a privilege to stand alongside the brave men and women of Islington fire service and receive the same award as them because they really deserve it.”