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Nominees for City of Leicester Awards announced

Published on Wednesday, November 15, 2023

3 minute read

The EAGA Choir

A LOCAL gospel choir, a passionate health campaigner, and the man who created Leicester’s comedy festival have all been nominated for a top civic award.

Members of the city council will be asked to endorse plans to honour the Emmanu’-EL Apostolic Gospel Academy (EAGA) Choir, the late Pamela Campbell-Morris and Geoff Rowe BEM with a City of Leicester Award – an award that recognises those whose outstanding achievements have brought pride to the city and its residents.

At the meeting of the full council next Thursday (23 November), councillors will hear why all three have been nominated for the prestigious award, before being asked to confirm the conferment of the honours.

Founded in Leicester around 20 years ago, the EAGA Choir has gone on to gain national recognition under the leadership of Bishop Mark Anderson, appearing in the finals of the BBC’s The Choir: Gareth’s Best of Britain, the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent and, most recently, winning the BBC’s Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year 2023.

The choir has brought its joyful sound to care homes, schools and places of worship, while nurturing young talent and instilling a deep appreciation of music and the arts in all its members.

A passionate health campaigner and champion for African and African-Caribbean communities, Pamela Campbell-Morris was committed to raising awareness of the symptoms of prostate cancer.

Working with influential voices within the Black community, such as Sir Lenny Henry, Julian Marley and the West Indian cricket team, Pamela developed a campaign – Play Domino, Talk Prostate – to encourage Black men to overcome their reluctance to talk about their health and to get themselves checked.

Pamela’s tireless work over 40 years was recognised in 2020, when she was named Outstanding BAME Female Leader at the East Midlands Women’s Awards. She passed away a year later, in June 2021.

Nominated for the final City of Leicester Award of 2023 is Geoff Rowe, who founded the Leicester Comedy Festival in 1994 while studying Arts Management at De Montfort University.

From an event dreamed up by a student year group, the annual festival has grown to become the biggest comedy festival in Europe, featuring more than 900 events over 19 days and attracting an audience of more than 135,000 people.

The festival gives a huge boost to the city’s economy every February, while the Big Difference Company – the charity founded by Geoff to run the festival – is committed to life-changing schemes that complement the festival’s objectives of health and happiness.

Geoff’s achievements were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2013, when he was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).

In April 2022, he announced his resignation as director of the Leicester Comedy Festival, after bringing laughter to Leicester for 30 years.  

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This year, we’re proposing to honour three very different recipients who have all made their mark on life in Leicester.

“Their contribution to the health and happiness of people in Leicester is indisputable and their achievements will no doubt have inspired many others to do great things.

“All three are very worthy recipients of our City of Leicester Award.”

Once the formalities of the full council meeting have been completed next week, a date for the presentation of the three City of Leicester Awards will be arranged.

The City of Leicester Award was introduced in 2022 to recognise individuals whose outstanding achievements have had a positive and wide-reaching impact on the city, and who have been a source of inspiration to its residents.

Leicester City FC chairman Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha received the first ever City of Leicester Award in April 2022.

His late father and former club chairman Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was posthumously honoured at the same time.

Three academics from the University of Leicester who led the search for the remains of King Richard III – Dr Richard Buckley OBE, Professor Turi King and Professor Emeritus Kevin Schürer – and their colleague Professor Emeritus Ken Pounds CBE, who kick-started space research in Leicester more than 60 years ago, were similarly honoured by the council in September 2022.


Picture caption: The EAGA Choir