Award winning South Shields animator Sheila Graber recommended to be given the Freedom of the Borough

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South Shields born animator Sheila Graber, who was behind the animation of the TV series Paddington, has been recommended to be given the rare honour of the Freedom of the Borough.

Sheila has received critical acclaim for her animations which have been been screened at the Tate Gallery in London, the Open University and on BBC's Blue Peter.

Despite being globally renowned for her creations, Sheila has also played a pivotal role in developing the animation skills of young people in the region through her work at both the University of Teesside and the University of Sunderland.

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Sheila is also a “mentor” to support the arts curriculum at Mortimer Primary School as well as contributing to South Tyneside’s exhibitions at South Shields Museum, the Customs House, and The Word.

The selfless artist has even donated money from many of her own creative productions to local charities.

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Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “Being granted the Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour to be bestowed on any individual or organisation.

“A cross party request to confer the honour of Freedom of the Borough to Ms. Sheila Graber was submitted and considered by the Constitution Committee.

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Award-winning animator Sheila Graber.Award-winning animator Sheila Graber.
Award-winning animator Sheila Graber.

“The Constitution Committee agreed that Ms Graber is someone whose drive is to pass on her skills to others in her home town of South Shields and across the Borough of South Tyneside, to use her skills to support numerous charitable and community causes throughout South Tyneside, and to further increase the reputation of our Borough.

“A more successful, well-respected individual would be difficult to find and that bestowing the honour of Freedom of the Borough to Ms Graber would be recognition that is hugely deserved. After careful consideration, the Constitution Committee agreed that they did indeed wish to make a formal recommendation to Borough Council.”

South Tyneside Council will consider the recommendation at their next meeting on Thursday, January 12. The rare honour has only been awarded to 11 people or organisations since 1981.

If the Council supports the recommendation it would then need to hold an Extraordinary Meeting of the Borough Council to make the formal decision.