Rev. David Latimer receives the freedom of the City of London

Rev David Latimer has been awarded the freedom of the City of London to recognise his work in promoting peace.

Rev David Latimer, with his wife Margaret and daughter Joanne, receiving the Freedom of the City of London
Rev David Latimer, with his wife Margaret and daughter Joanne, receiving the Freedom of the City of London

The Reverend travelled to London earlier this week, with his wife Margaret and daughter Joanne, to receive the award at an event in the Chamberlain’s Court, Guildhall.

He was first made aware that he was being considered for the accolade in 2019, while he was in America promoting his book ‘A Leap of Faith’.

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“Margaret and I were in Detroit for the book promotion tour and we were close to the church where Martin Luther King preached in when I got an email informing me I was being considered for this award of the freedom of the City of London and asking if I would be willing to accept it.

“I was blown away by it.”

The freedom of the City of London is a recognition of a lifetime of achievement which was first bestowed in 1237.

“It is now mostly associated with work that has been done to improve community life and obviously my journey with Martin McGuinness was something they were impressed by,” Rev Latimer said. “They were also impressed with the work I had been involved in to bring young people into the peace journey with the Peace Pledge Initiative.”

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In receiving the award, Rev Latimer told the guests at the ceremony ‘that I wanted to share the award with Martin McGuinness because of what we were able to achieve together’.

“One of his dreams was that the future of young children would be very different to his past and his support for the peace pledge is evidence of that.”

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Rev. Latimer read out a peace pledge that Martin McGuinness had written during his acceptance speech.

“They are very inspirational words- ‘I pledge to work tirelessly with everyone to ensure tolerance, equality and mutual respect become the bedrock of a new shared future.’

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“The Irish Society Governors were present and they were very keen to hear about the story of Martin McGuinness and myself and it was lovely to share that story.

“There was a lot of emotion in the room as I shared the story of the bumpy journey Martin and I travelled on. One of the ladies present commented that I had given her a lot of things to think about and a completely different perspective on the man that I was friends with.”

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The Reverend said that the award was “totally unexpected, out of the blue and it give me a real feeling of gratitude that this award was considered for someone living in the city of Derry and allows the links with the city of London to be on display and to be strengthened.”