Maria Lovell, a Ghanaian politician based in Luton in the UK, has been awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021, on June 13, 2021.
The now-former Mayor of Luton was honoured with the award in recognition of her work in supporting Luton’s African community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In September 2020, Ms Lovell stepped up from Deputy Mayor to the role of Mayor following the resignation of Tahir Malik (the Mayor at the time), making her the first black person of African descent and second black woman to do so. The first was Jamaican-born Desline Stewart MBE who served as Mayor in the mid-90s.
She also made history by being the first Mayor of Luton to be formally invested and appointed in a virtual online ceremony; with Covid-19 restrictions making the usual process impossible.
In tackling the Covid-19 pandemic as Mayor, she led a campaign to raise funds and provide urgently-needed food supplies to the most disadvantaged members of the African community in Bedfordshire, after the first lockdown took declared in the UK.
In her role as Deputy Mayor, she launched the Luton Women’s Network for the International Women’s Day celebration at the Town Hall in March and also hosted Afternoon Tea to celebrate Older Person’s Day last September.
Maria was born in Ghana and comes from a family of astute politicians and parents who were ardent humanitarians and activists.
However, she has lived in Luton for over three decades and worked tirelessly through cultural events and exhibitions to support and promote the town’s African cultural heritage and to enhance community cohesion and foster links between Luton and Ghana.
She founded the Ghana Society in 2006 to promote and showcase Ghana’s cultural heritage. The Society became the first group to demonstrate traditional African costumes in Luton International Carnival.
She has supported various charities such as Mercy Ships, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer and World Child Cancer to raise funds for their cause. Maria hosted the first BAME Business Forum dubbed “Luton & Beyond” in collaboration with Luton Business Forum during Black History Month last October and created the Deputy Mayors Appreciation Awards to acknowledge local businesses.
In 2011 Maria received the Mayor’s Citizenship Award for her valuable contribution to the community in Luton. She is also a member of the United Nations Association.
Maria is also the first to be coroneted as a royal Kente Development Queen and known traditionally as HRH Nana Abena Asantewaa I for the town of Bonwire in the Ashanti region of Ghana. This area is known globally as the home of the renowned Kente fabric and Maria is its royal custodian in the UK and Ireland. She has promoted the Kente fabric through various exhibitions throughout the UK and most recently in collaboration with Wardown House in March.
Maria’s passion has been to share her African roots to educate communities and support campaigns that support the elderly, women and Youth.
She was employed in the public sector locally and previously worked in central government and Parliamentary business, according to the Luton Borough Council.
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