Liverpool charity boss granted freedom of city
A Merseyside children's charity founder has been given the Freedom of the City of Liverpool.
Stephen Yip, 57, was selected for the honour because of his work as founder of the charity Kind (Kids In Need and Distress).
The charity, which he started 37 years ago, works with disadvantaged children across the region and is funded entirely by donations.
He is the first local person from an ethnic minority group to be granted the freedom, which is one of the highest honours Liverpool can award an individual.
Mr Yip said: "It is an amazing award and its an amazing honour because I think there is no higher award than one that is given by people that you live, work and socialise with.
"I've lived here all my life so to be awarded the highest honour that our city can give me - I'm absolutely gobsmacked."
The son of a Chinese seaman, Mr Yip said he has always been a "proud Scouser".
He said: "My dad came to Liverpool as a merchant seaman and met Mum who was a Liverpool girl - they got married and had 10 kids.
"I am the son of an immigrant and I think this honour is a recognition of their contribution to Liverpool life - Liverpool is a melting pot of culture.
"I am a very proud Scouser, I was born here and have lived here all my life."
Mr Yip was brought up in the centre of Liverpool and says he has fond memories of urban life.
He said: "We lived in the last of the back to backs in Duke Terrace which was an amazing place to live because it was like having a secret garden, except there was no green - it was all concrete.
"We were in the heart of the city. Our playground was the docks and Chinatown - we were city kids."
Mr Yip was inspired to start his charity while still a student at Quarry Bank High School in the 1970s.
He said: "I was the chair of the community action group and we did a lot of fundraising. I also did a lot of volunteering for the NSPCC.
"We took some of the kids on a trip to Wales and it was so good for them, getting them into the countryside and out of their normal environment. That's when I decided this is something I'd really like to do."
He registered his charity Kind in 1975 to help children and young people "overcome their disadvantages and reach their full potential".
In 2011 he was made Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside for his role within the community and in 2002 he received an MBE for his charitable works.
Mr Yip is the 63rd person to receive the freedom of the city honour which dates from 1886.
He will receive that award at a special presentation ceremony later this year.
He said: "I'm accepting it on behalf of all the voluntary sector. I've done this for 37 years but there are lots of organisations and lots of individuals that give so much to the city in the voluntary sector.
"Also I'd like to accept it on behalf of all the sons and daughters of immigrants, of all the people who came from all over the world to make Liverpool their home.
"I hope that all young Scousers will look up and think, here's a lad who used to live in the back to backs in Liverpool one is being honoured by the city.
"If I can do it then anyone can do it."