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Stoll founder and Dame Barbara Windsor honoured

A permanent Walk of Fame has been revealed outside the iconic Hackney Empire with inaugural recognition plates for the Eastenders and Carry on star Dame Barbara Windsor and Sir Oswald Stoll.

Sir Oswald Stoll, a renowned theatre impresario, commissioned the building of the Hackney Empire 115 years ago. Fifteen years later, Sir Oswald set up Stoll when he saw the desperate need for support and housing for vulnerable Veterans returning from World War One. Today and a century on, Stoll provides 259 homes with holistic support for ex-Service men and women across London and the South East, with another 34 homes currently being built in Aldershot.

The Hackney Empire Walk of Fame will be a permanent public monument. Unveiling the recognition plate for Sir Oswald Stoll yesterday, Stoll’s Chief Executive Ed Tytherleigh said:  “We are absolutely delighted that the heritage of Stoll and the Hackney Empire is being celebrated in such a wonderful way, over 100 years on from the inception of both organisations. To have Sir Oswald Stoll’s plaque outside the Hackney Empire is a much-deserved honour which the Stoll family and Stoll Veterans greatly appreciate. Stoll has provided housing and support for our most vulnerable ex-Service personnel for 100 years. We must continue this legacy and ensure we build 100 new homes to address the housing shortage for the next generation of Veterans.”

Dame Barbara Windsor met Veterans and shared their experiences. Stoll residents, Shaun Johnson and Nicola Stokes talked to the Eastenders star about their own acting achievements. Both Shaun and Nicola are members of the Combat Veterans’ Players which includes a number of Stoll residents and uses rehearsal space at Stoll.

Dame Barbara Windsor said: “When I was told I was to be honoured in The Hackney Empire Walk of Fame, I could not have felt more proud. Of course with my roots being an East London lady and Hackney Empire always being a part of my life, this wonderful tribute made it even more special. It was the first theatre I was taken to as a child by my family. Mum, Dad, Nanny and Grandad and I absolutely loved it and could not wait to go again. I am fortunate enough to have appeared there and experienced the incredible atmosphere and welcoming audience. I am very grateful and proud to be a part of the Hackney Empire which is known as “The People’s Palace”.

Frank Matcham, the architect of the Hackney Empire, who worked closely with Sir Oswald Stoll, was also recognised on the third nameplate outside the theatre.

Hackney Empire Chief Executive, Clarie Middleton said: “I’m delighted to launch this new project celebrating Hackney Empire’s rich cultural significance, beginning with the two people who set the visions and foundations of the theatre, and a national treasure from the East End, Dame Barbara Windsor”.