Dermot O’Leary receives Freedom of the City of London

Dermot O’Leary has received the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of his charitable work and patronage of charity the London Irish Centre.

The 49-year-old presenter, who currently presents a weekend breakfast show on BBC Radio 2 and co-presents the Friday edition of ITV’s This Morning with Alison Hammond, attended his ceremony at The Mansion House in London on Tuesday.

After receiving the honour, O’Leary said: “I am genuinely honoured to receive the Freedom of the City of London.

Dermot O’Leary with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny, at The Mansion House following his Freedom of the City of London ceremony (City of London Corporation/PA)
Dermot O’Leary with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny, at The Mansion House following his Freedom of the City of London ceremony (City of London Corporation/PA)

“Anyone who knows me will know that two of my great loves are this wonderful city and my Irish heritage so, to receive the Freedom alongside my London Irish Centre friends makes it all the more special.

“Countless Irish people, like my own parents, brought so much to this great city, so I would like to sincerely thank the Lord Mayor in honouring those experiences and contributions today, and I proudly and humbly accept this on their behalf.”

O’Leary, who was born in Colchester after his parents emigrated to the UK from Wexford in Ireland, was joined at The Mansion House – the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London – by family members, friends and representatives from the London Irish Centre.

O’Leary is a patron of Camden-based charity the London Irish Centre, supporting the charity’s work in providing advice, support, culture, and community services to the Irish community in London.

O’Leary was nominated for the Freedom of the City of London by Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny, and member and court assistant of the Worshipful Company of Carmen, Vince Dignam.

Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny said: “Dermot is familiar to many millions of us, either, from watching him on TV or listening to his radio show but more than that, he is also a dedicated and much valued charity campaigner.

“As the City’s first Irish National Lord Mayor, I was particularly delighted to nominate Dermot for the Freedom of the City of London, which is one of our most ancient and proud traditions, and which he richly deserves.”

While Dignam added: “Through my membership of The Worshipful Company of Carmen and my links with the London Irish Centre, I was very pleased to join Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny in nominating Dermot for the Freedom.

O’Leary with the Chief Executive Officer of the London Irish Centre, Séamus MacCormaic (City of London Corporation/PA)
O’Leary with the Chief Executive Officer of the London Irish Centre, Séamus MacCormaic (City of London Corporation/PA)

“His sterling support for the London Irish Centre is being recognised today in a unique way by the city, and I feel sure that he will always remember this special occasion.”

As a patron of the London Irish Centre, O’Leary received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad in 2020, again for his contribution to charity.

O’Leary is also an ambassador for both UNICEF and CAFOD.

Freedom of the City of London is one of the City of London’s ancient traditions – believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients, who were also required to join a Livery company, to carry out their trade.

As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a highly significant achievement.