Film, arts and music stars attend as director Arnold Schwartzman made Honorary Freeman of Margate

Sir Ben Kingsley, Uwe Derksen, Arnold Schwartzman and wife Isolde Photo Frank Leppard

Photos Frank Leppard

Stars from across film, music and the arts were in attendance at a ceremony in Margate yesterday (September 29) to make Oscar-winning director Arnold Schwartzman an Honorary Freeman of the town.

Mr Schwartzman is a former resident and ex-pupil of Holy Trinity Primary and King Ethelbert school.

He maintains strong ties with the town, gives talks at his former primary school and has been a patron of The Margate School since 2014.

Photo Frank Leppard

The ceremony yesterday began with a gathering on the steps at Turner Contemporary followed by a parade to The Margate School in the High Street where the Freeman honour was ‘proposed’ by guest, Oscar winning film star Sir Ben Kingsley – of epics including Ghandi and Schindler’s List.

Sir Ben Kingsley Photo Frank Leppard

Others in the audience included Arnold’s wife Isolde Schwartzman and other family members, former British Ambassadors Warwick Morris and Paul Dimond; Sir David Warburton who is one of Los Angeles foremost surgeons and began his  career as a ward orderly at Margate’s Royal Sea Bathing Hospital; photographer Clive Arrowsmith who has had an illustrious career as a fashion/celebrity photographer- shot Pirelli calendar twice and the cover for Wings album Band On The Run and has photographed David Bowie and the Dalai Lama; Brian Morris, a British production designer with credits including Pirates of the Caribbean and Evita; artist and Margate Freewoman Tracey Emin, musician Carl Barat, TMS members including founder Uwe Derksen, Margate mayor Rob Yates, councillors and residents including Walpole Bay Hotel owner Jane Bishop, historian James Brazier, Ark founder Jan Ryan and Civic Society members Pamela People and Geoff Orton.

Photo Frank Leppard

Arnold said: “I’m still greatly in shock at the wonderful news which I deem to be more significant to me than all the other accolades that I have been honoured to receive over the years.”

Mayor of Margate Cllr Rob Yates said: “Arnold has supported Margate throughout his successful career and has been and remains, an asset to the town. The Charter Trustees are pleased to recognise by the granting of this Honorary title, for his service to the Town of Margate.”

Photo Frank Leppard

Uwe Derksen, Director of The Margate School, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Arnold Schwartzman is to become an Honorary Freeman of Margate. Arnold is a long-standing supporter of The Margate School.”

Born in East London in 1936, Arnold moved to Margate after the Second World War, when he was 9. His parents ran the Majestic Hotel in Cliftonville. Initially he attended Holy Trinity Primary School, moving on to King Ethelbert School in Birchington in 1947.

Photo Frank Leppard

Following a part as an extra in The Weaker Sex, which was partially filmed in Margate, he became the assistant cinema projectionist at Parade Cinema, now Old Kent Market and enrolled at Thanet School of Art and Crafts in Hawley Square, Margate before attending Canterbury College of Art.

After graduating and a period of national service in Germany and South Korea his professional career took off as a graphic designer in broadcast television, film maker, public speaker and author of art books, including on art deco, taking him first to Manchester and London before arriving in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, where he has since made his home.

Photo Frank Lppard

In 2012 Arnold began to develop the concept for the film ‘Margate Paradiso’ and became Patron of the Margate Clock Tower. The following year he conceived  ‘Margate Rock’  on the terrace of the Turner Contemporary with UCA foundation students.

In 2014 Arnold became patron of The Margate School, followed a year later by presenting and endorsing the concept of TMS at Turner Contemporary, where he also opened an exhibition.

Photo Frank Leppard

In 2018 he created and installed the TS Eliot mural at Margate Station, with the support of The T.S Eliot Foundation and Margate School. His patronage has continued and he continues to visit, make presentations and to support The Margate School.  His support extends around Margate and includes Cliftonville Cultural Space – Ark – and The Margate Civic Society talks at Walpole Bay Hotel, former Sands Hotel, Turner Contemporary and local schools.

Clive Arrowsmith and Brian Morris. Photo Mary Whelan

In 1982 he was  appointed the director of design for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and  in 1982 he received an Academy Award, Oscar®, as the producer and director of the Best Documentary Film “Genocide”

Photo Frank Leppard

In 2002 he was awarded an OBE and conferred the distinction of Royal Designer in 2006. In 2013  he was the designer of the U.N. Peace Bell Memorial, Seoul, S.Korea.

Arnold has maintained strong ties with Margate through extended family connections and friends, returning periodically to both his former schools to make presentations about his life and career.

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Rob Garratt, headteacher of Holy Trinity and St John Church of England Primary School which Arnold visited this week, said: “As a school in the heart of Margate, we’re always delighted to hear about people who have grown up here and forged successful careers for themselves and then continued to support the town.

“We wish Arnold Schwartzman all the best as a Freeman of Margate.”


  1. And in a cost of living crisis how much did this pomp cost us? I thought the Labour Party did not like the Monarchy yet they can not wait to slip on a ceremony gown when they get the chance can they? Hypocrites

    • …and if the Labour Mayor didn’t wear the robes – the rabid right would be attacking him for disrespecting traditions.

      Can stand the miserable sods on this message board!

  2. Typical of the nasty brigade this town has a tradition going back to 1786 when Margate was founded and the first seaside town many people there done something with there lives and got on with it lovies are a term for theatre I certainly not a Luvie I do what I can to make the town better for everyone I want to see the end of dole on sea and the town to move on so people can make something with there life as people at this gathering did and still are the future is for the next generation to work not sit on there backsides and collect dole enough is enough of all this negative comments about our town and people who have done something with there lives after all they are all commoners like the rest of us.

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