Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE
Medium Bronze (edition of 9)
Size 28" (75cm)
This sculpture of Baroness Floella Benjamin of Beckenham was commissioned by Exeter University to celebrate her retirement as chancellor.
Before becoming a much-loved TV presenter, on arrival in the UK from Trinidad aged 10, she lived in Beckenham. She chose the title of Baroness of Beckenham as recognition of her family’s connections to the area, on becoming a Life Peer in the House of Lords in 2010.
The 67-year-old first earned her claim to fame by starring in major musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair and Black Mikado. But it was in the 1970s when Floella Benjamin become a household name, presenting children’s television shows Play School and Play Away. A prominent children’s rights campaigner, she lobbied the government to introduce a minister for children and also set up Touching Success - an organisation aimed at inspiring youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve success in their lives.
Becoming a chancellor at the University of Exeter in 2006, she is known for hugging students at graduation, rather than offering the traditional handshake.After ten years as a chancellor, she carried out her last graduation ceremony in December 2016. She continues to inspire and give hope through her encouragement to be considerate, content and confident.
The sculpture is extremely significant because it is believed to be the only existing public statue of a named living female black person in the UK.
CONSIDERATION. Put yourself in the place of others, show empathy and respect. Never be judgmental.
Floella Benjamin - written on the plaque in Exeter University.