Crista Cullen, the double Olympian and London 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist, received the Freedom of the City of London at Guildhall on Friday 23 August, in recognition of her outstanding achievements in hockey.
For nearly a decade Crista Cullen has been one of the best known stars of the women’s game, representing her country at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. A feared penalty corner specialist, the Lincolnshire-born defender has been listed in the World All Stars Team three times - in 2006, 2007 and 2010 – and played a pivotal role in England’s rise up the world rankings. Nominated for the prestigious Women's Player of the Year award for 2012 by the FIH earlier this year, Cullen announced her retirement from hockey in February after winning a bronze medal with the rest of her team at London 2012 - TeamGB's first team sport medal in 20 years.
A fierce competitor, Cullen helped England to a first ever World Cup bronze medal in 2010, the Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy bronze medals in the same year, and four European Championship bronze medals in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011, In 2012, she helped Great Britain to the country’s best ever finish at a world level tournament – silver at the Champions Trophy.
The 28-year old hockey defender’s ceremony began with her reading aloud the Declaration of a Freeman, and ended with her being greeted by Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Court, as a ‘Citizen of London’ and the presentation of her framed parchment certificate.
Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Court, said:
“My colleagues and I at the City of London Corporation have been delighted to welcome several Olympic and Paralympic athletes, all of them linked to this great city, to Guildhall to receive the Freedom of the City of London, which pays tribute to their remarkable performances at the 2012 Games.
“Crista was thrilled to receive the Freedom, which is richly deserved, and I hope that she will have fond memories of the day for many years to come.”
Alan Campbell, David Weir, Pete Reed, Joanna Rowsell, Lily van den Broeke, Natasha Baker and Shaun McKeown are among the Olympic and Paralympic athletes who have received the Freedom over the last year.
The Freedom of the City of London is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade; and today, people are nominated for, or apply for, the Freedom, because it offers them a link with the historic City of London and one of its ancient traditions.
The Freedom is also offered to individuals by the City of London Corporation to help celebrate a significant achievement, or to pay tribute to their outstanding contribution to London life or public life. However, many of the so-called traditional privileges associated with the Freedom, such as driving sheep over London Bridge, no longer exist.