In 2008, Sybil Phoenix, a stalwart Lewisham foster carer and former ceremonial mayor was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her community work. She received an OBE.
Sybil Phoenix’s OBE is the second honour the 81-year-old former Mayor of Lewisham has received from the Queen for community work. She was the first black woman to receive an MBE but initially refused it because it would not benefit her community. The powers-that-be were taken aback expecting her to be more grateful. She stated she would accept it if the council gave her a property where she could house, feed and educate homeless young girls from Lewisham. Watch the video:
Mrs Phoenix runs a shelter for Marsha Phoenix Memorial Trust for homeless young women.
She started fostering in 1962 and within the first 10 years, she had fostered more than 100 girls and young women. She is also the founder of the Lewisham Moonshot Club which was firebombed by racists in 1977 and later relocated to New Cross.
Lewisham-born author Malorie Blackman was made a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) and Rosemary Ramsey, founder and head teacher at Mount Zion Supplementary School in Lewisham was also created a DBE for services to education and the community.