Civic Award For Sir Michael Caine

Sir Michael Caine celebrates a "personal" award - the freedom of the borough where he grew up and made his acting debut.

The 79-year-old movie star received the honour along with other luminaries from Southwark in a ceremony at St George's Cathedral, not far from Elephant and Castle, where he grew up.

Sir Michael said: "I've received awards before, but this is so personal, because it's about where I grew up."

Asked why he thought he had been given the award, he said: "I think it's because I come from here.

"I did my first acting in a youth club here, an amateur dramatic society. I'm part of what this place is."

The Alfie and Zulu star was nominated for the award by Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, who said: "Sir Michael has been an exceptional ambassador for the place where he grew up and an example for all Southwark residents."

The honorary freedom of the borough is given to individuals or organisations in recognition of their contribution made to life there.

Others receiving the award today included politicians Harriet Harman, Simon Hughes and Tessa Jowell, as well as Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2005 for two acts of outstanding courage in Iraq the previous year.

L/Cpl Beharry, who has lived in East Dulwich for eight years, said: "The award is for my work with teenagers. When I came here from Grenada in 1999, I didn't find life easy, but decided to join the Army.

"I want to motivate and inspire young people to stay in education and stay on the right path, and am looking to set up a foundation to continue my work with teenagers."

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