Floella Benjamin

Baroness Benjamin

University of Exeter Chancellor receives prestigious award

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE DL, actress, author, politician and much loved University of Exeter Chancellor, has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to children’s television and her championing of arts for children, at an awards ceremony at BAFTA, London, on Saturday 20 October.

The annual Children’s Arts Awards, organised by Action for Children’s Arts (ACA), celebrates artists who have made a lasting contribution through their work to children’s art and welfare in the UK. Baroness Benjamin was presented with the J.M. Barrie Award, for a body of work that will stand the test of time. Former recipients include Roger McGough and Quentin Blake.

She was joined by the eleven winners of this year’s ACA Members’ Awards, which were introduced to recognise the contribution made by individuals and organisations who, though less well known, represent a vital thread in the fabric of children’s arts in the UK. Recipients, each nominated by a member of ACA, have included teachers, producers, managers, administrators and artists.

A host of famous faces filled the legendary BAFTA Members’ Club to pay tribute to Baroness Benjamin, including Rudolph Walker (East Enders), former Play School colleagues Wayne Jackman, Stuart McGugan, Michael Omer, Ann Reay, Carol Chell and Peter Charlton as well as Peter Duncan, Sarah Greene and Mike Smith and Downton Abbey creator, Lord Julian Fellowes. They will be joined by the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago, publisher Colin Webb, and her two children, who read excerpts from her book, ‘Coming to England’.

Speaking about the event, ACA Patron, Peter Duncan, said: “Floella is recognised by countless adults as one of the most well-known TV presenters of their childhood.  She has gone on to work tirelessly for charity and to champion children’s arts and I can think of no-one better to receive this award.

“We successfully made the 2012 ACA Children’s Arts Awards not only a celebration of the work of Floella and the other award winners, but also an occasion to celebrate the place that the arts have in a happy childhood, a chance for us grown-ups to remember the books, plays, television programmes, music and dance, pictures and films that we enjoyed as children and continue to enjoy as parents and grandparents.”

The Children’s Arts Awards took place at BAFTA, London, on Saturday 20 October.

Date: 20 October 2012