Mandela8’s Chair Nominated For Lifetime Achiever Award

Sonia Bassey MBE has been nominated for a Lifetime Achievers prize at this year’s National Diversity Awards.

The Chair of both Mandela8 and Africa Oyé will be recognised at a black-tie ceremony in Liverpool next year, showcasing organisations’ and individuals’ outstanding devotion to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion in their field.

The National Diversity Awards – in association with ITV News – celebrates the achievements of grass-root communities that tackle the issues in today’s society, giving charities, role models and community heroes recognition for their dedication and hard work.

Growing up in the vibrant and active L8 area of Liverpool, Sonia became an entrepreneur at just 19 when she established herself as a community artist and director of her own business, which she still runs today. She now works as Director of Public Sector Transformation for Cheshire and Warrington, leading transformation of services across the sub region.

As well as chairing the Board of Trustees at Mandela8, Sonia is also Chair of Africa Oyé – the UK’s largest celebration of African music and culture, which takes place annually in Liverpool.

Sonia has also previously served as Chair for the Merseyside Black History Month Group and in 2017 was awarded an MBE for services to the community in Liverpool.

Sonia Bassey MBE, said:

“I come from a community that was written off by many institutions locally and its image destroyed by media perception nationally and around the world. A place where I and many of my peers were also written off. Yet I am here today celebrating having come this far in the National Diversity Awards. This is important, not only to me, but to young people who believe there is no hope for them. There is; you can aspire, you can achieve and you can be whoever you want to be. Dream big and there are people like me who have lived in your shoes here to support you.”

Dawn Morris of Mandela8, said:

“Sonia has such a heart for people and diversity and the values we have at Mandela8 are at the core of her spirit. Sonia is passionate about helping to bring an end to racial injustice and building a future filled with hope, especially for young people. Sonia’s nomination for this award is extremely well deserved and we at Mandela8 wish her all the very best on the awards night.”

The National Diversity Awards ceremony will take place on 26th February 2021 at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool. More information and tickets to the awards can be found at

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Work is to start by the end of the year installing a memorial and bridge in a Liverpool park, dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela.

The Princes Park scheme includes a new ‘Freedom Bridge’, pavilion and 32 cylindrical stoneworks inscribed with inspirational Mandela quotes. The pedestals represent the oil drums Mandela used to grow an allotment on the rooftop of Pollsmoor Prison.

The project reflects upon Mandela’s love of gardens and horticulture along with his struggle for freedom, equality and humanity, and the spaces will be used for future activity in the park, acting as a focal point and an area to visit, reflect and educate.

The city council has already restored the surrounding lake including reinstating the water channel, fixing edging stones, putting in fishing platforms and ecological improvements.

His family – eldest daughter Dr Makaziwe ‘Maki’ Mandela and his granddaughter Tukwini Mandela – have confirmed they will be coming to the city for the official opening at Princes Park in July 2020, as part of Mandela Week, on what would have been his 101st birthday.

They were last in the city in February this year when they toured the site and visited a number of community projects and viewed artwork created by Nelson Mandela which is on permanent display at St George’s Hall gifted to the city by his daughter.

Funding for the memorial and bridge has come from a number of sources including planning agreements made with developers (section 106) and UNI Global, a conglomerate of unions representing 20 million workers in the skills and services sectors.

Dr Makaziwe Mandela and Tukwini Mandela (pictured above) said: “We are delighted to be coming back to Liverpool, a city dear to our hearts.

“It will be a special moment indeed when the memorial is opened and so special to us to know that the memorial is Liverpool’s way of continuing to show their love and respect for our Father and Grandfather and ensure his legacy lives on.

“Liverpool’s connection to South Africa and its support of Anti-Apartheid is significant and we look forward to developing a legacy for the future of Liverpool by being there to lead Mandela week.”

Sonia Bassey, Chair and one of the founding members of Mandela8, said: “The last five years for Mandela8 have been the most amazing journey.

“We have worked hard with the communities of Liverpool to realise their dream and are so excited to finally see the memorial installed.

“We were told we had given our communities hope when the Mandela family visited Liverpool last year, so we are humbled that they would want to come back and share this special moment with us and bless the very place that will be fundamental to our ongoing educational work in communities.

“We have exciting plans for Mandela Week next year that will truly make commemorating Mandela’s birthday special.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “It is fantastic news that we will be starting work on the Mandela memorial, which will be a lasting tribute to his unrivalled achievements in bringing the evil of apartheid to an end.

“The memorial project has been years in the planning and I know from meeting them last year how touched the family are that this tribute will be taking centre stage in such a beautiful green space.

“It will be a privilege and an honour to once again welcome the Mandela family for what will be a very special occasion when the memorial is completed.”

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The feedback is still coming in from what was a fantastic day of #My67Minutes activities and Mandela Day Celebration in 2019. Here are just some of the facts and figures (correct as of 7th October, 2019):

In Cheshire East alone there were 11 primary schools and 3 secondary schools taking part with a total of 5929 pupils taking part.  All schools received a copy of the Long Walk to Freedom.  All had access to the 67 ideas brochure and the primary and secondary school presentation for school assembly’s. 

6 volunteers organised: a Mandela cake raffle; 67 cup cake sale; organised the school programme with over 101 participants (excludes school numbers above) using 22 volunteer hours. The raffle raised over £300 and was donated to My Cheshire Without Abuse, a Crewe based charity.  

Additionally in Cheshire and Warrington a Winsford school took part with 750 pupils taking part.

Overall for Mandela Day for feedback forms received back the following info / stats were recorded:

·        20 youth centres participated

·        15 voluntary organisations participated

·        Expansion to schools across the wider Liverpool City Region (and additional 408 primary schools and 61 secondary schools –total schools then involved 530 – 231,589 pupils)

·        Expansion to schools in Cheshire and Warrington (12 primary and 3 secondary schools – total schools then involved 15 – 6,679 pupils)

·        4 schools across Liverpool City Region signed up to Schools Pledge to use the memorial garden for educational purposes once installed

·        4 barrel gardens developed for schools who were part of the Start of Works on Site Ceremony

·        A total of 192 volunteers took part

·        A total of 995 volunteer hours were recorded

·        A total of 5361 participants took part (excluding schools). 

·        A total of 243,629 participants took part including schools. 

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