Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson and four-time Olympian Donna Fraser were unlikely attendees of a Croydon Council meeting last night (Monday, December 3).

The pair were awarded the Freedom of the Borough, the highest civic honour a local authority can give, at a special council meeting.

They were nominated for their contributions to their communities as well as their sporting achievements. Both grew up and went to school in the borough.

Roy attended John Ruskin Grammar School and played for the school football team. He has since managed teams including Inter Milan, Copenhagen, Fulham, Switzerland, Liverpool and England.

Donna grew up in Thornton Heath and was a pupil at Winterbourne Junior Girls School, St Mary’s Catholic High School and Croydon College.

She raced for Croydon Harriers Athletics Club until her retirement in 2009, the year she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

As well as competing in four Olympic Games, Donna also won gold at the 1991 European Junior Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece, and medalled at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

She has been an ambassador for many organisations including Breast Cancer Now and is a Trustee for the London Marathon Charitable Trust and the Women’s Sport Trust.

Roy said: “It’s very much a special day, both an honour and a humbling experience.

“Croydon has played a massive part of my life and my formative years were spent here. I now make the same journey every day, and it is surreal going past so many places you know so well.

“It’s a great honour and I’m really happy to be given that honour.”

Donna’s parents came to Croydon in the 1960s and said they were excited to hear the news.

She said: “I’m ecstatic. When I told my parents they were going ballistic. My parents came here in the 1960s, they were told Croydon was the best place to be, and they’ve never left.

“It’s so overwhelming and it’s absolutely positive. This award is a huge platform to use to start conversations people may not want to talk about.

“I’d also like to say a huge thank-you. This is a great thing to celebrate and talk about.”