Baroness Floella Benjamin has officially received a damehood for her services to charity and helping children and it's something which is absolutely fantastic to see.
Floella Bejamin, 70, is known to the world notably through her time as a TV presenter, hosting Play School for 12 years as well as other shows such as Play Away and Fast Forward. She has also spent over 40 years advocating for young people and supporting charities such as Barnardo's, Beating Bowel Cancer and the Sickle Cell Society.
Other notable achievements include appearing in various stage shows like Jesus Christ Superstar and Black Mikado and she was introdcued to the House Of Lord and officially given the full title of Baroness Benjamin in 2010. In her career she has built her name and profile up as an actress, presenter, writer, independent producer, businesswoman and media regulator.
Born in Trindad as one of six children, she grew up in England and as an immigrant, went through racism and discrimination but did not let that deter her from achieving success in the UK. She left school at 16 and spent 3 years in banking and accountancy but said that the Chief Accountants Office of Barclay’s Bank didn’t suit her personality and she soon found her way into the world of showbusiness. After a stint in her stage career, she began presenting childrens television programmes in 1976 (including Play School) and the rest was history.
She collected her damehood at Buckingham Palace from Prince Charles.
In discussing the honour with the BBC, Floella said: "I've given my heart and soul to children especially, to make sure that they're loved too and that there is so much they can do if they feel confident about themselves and feel worthy, because that is what my mum and dad did to me and so my whole life is about giving, unconditionally."
The visual of seeing Floella getting such an honour is an important showcase of visibility and representation as black children and young people around the UK are getting to see how hard work and dedication to a positive cause can be celebrated on the highest levels.
Floella Benjamin and her work can be seen on her website - http://www.floellabenjamin.com/
Writer: Tonte Bo Douglas