“Sir Phil Redmond – congratulations and about time!
Many years ago Phil stood on the steps of the arena, relayed his now famous scouse wedding line about European Capital of Culture and dared the media to ignore the city and the incredible twelve-month programme which had been painstakingly planned. It worked. The sniping stopped and for the first time in a long time we were judged on our merits and not on tired stereotypes.
He came in, wasn’t paid a penny, and transformed the narrative about that seismic event.
But we didn’t give him Freedom of the City for that, nor for Grange Hill, Brookside or Hollyoaks. Not for his stint as chairman of National Museums Liverpool either.
We gave him Freedom of the City for all the things you don’t see behind the scenes and the achievements he doesn’t reveal publicly. He doesn’t promote his charitable donations to the arts and to Alder Hey, or talk about how much time and expertise he gives to commissions which will bring about positive change for so many – which he generally does for the price of a sandwich!
We also gave him Freedom of the City because he is of and from this city, and with every initiative and creation he dreams up, he tells the story of this place. Derry, Hull and Coventry will have a very soft spot for the man who invented the UK City of Culture programme based on Liverpool’s success, and has pushed it through multiple governments and secretaries of state. That is why Phil (or Sir Phil as I should now say) has received a Knighthood – it’s never about him but about this beautiful city that he loves.”