CRoydon Champions

Here are a few of our CR people who have made a significant contribution to our community in their own different ways. Everyday champions and unsung heroes who show us that we can all inspire positive change in the places we love.


Shaniqua Benjamin

Shaniqua Benjamin

Poet, writer, community leader

Shaniqua is a writer and poet, who is on a CRusade to encourage young people to share their truth in their own words and have their voices heard.

She founded the platform, Young People Insight CIC to encourage conversation and poetry. She was born and bred in Croydon.

“Croydon has so much potential, so much talent. This needs to be cultivated, protected and nourished.”

Malti Patel

Malti Patel

Artistic Director of Apsara Arts, Croydon's Asian Arts & Heritage Company

Trained in the classical Indian dance, Kathak, Malti developed a unique, CReative style of Bollywood dance that inspires and encourages many people to take up dancing.

Malti has also produced and directed many arts and heritage projects engaging artists, volunteers and community groups in reaching diverse audience and participants. “Croydon has a lot of diversity and people are more accepting of differences. Croydon Pride and Croydon Mela are a good example where people of all ages and communities come to support the events.”

“This inclusiveness is what Croydon does best.”

Carl Nielson

Carl Nielson

Founder of Rockbottom music shop.

Carl opened Rockbottom in the CRonx in 1975, and a decade later, opened another Rockbottom in Los Angeles.

Since the ‘60s, Carl has been helping musicians hone their passion, working with every rock legend you could imagine, from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page, and many great names from West Croydon to West L.A.  In fact, one of his first jobs in 1967 was to repair the 7120 Vox owned by the Beatles.

Despite being ravaged by the riots in 2011, Rockbottom has risen like a phoenix to thrive as a both a legendary guitar and music shop, and a place where the famous bands of tomorrow practise in one of 5 rehearsal studios. Carl himself can also often be heard playing in a well-respected tribute band called ‘Statin’ Quo’.

“Music makes the world go round.”

Alice Everest

Alice Everest

Visual Arts and Design Co-Director, the BRIT School.

Teachers are CRitical to the development of the future talent of tomorrow. Alice has been a teacher at the BRIT School for the last 17 years.

She was born and raised in Croydon and she’s raising her 3 kids here. “The BRIT school has a massive catchment area and a great reputation, and students even come from overseas to study here.”

“I love the food and café culture, the street art and the parks; the fact that Croydon is surrounded by green spaces.”

Paula Goodwin

Paula Goodwin

Chairperson of Croydon Pride

Paula is one of the original trustees of Croydon Pride, which has CRucial importance in promoting inclusion, acceptance, and the affirmation of LGBT+ people as part of the wider community, within business and social arenas.

 “I love Croydon because there always seems to be something going on. Croydon PrideFest has had a lot of support from the council, and the wider community has embraced it. Croydon’s a nice place.”

“As everyone is in the minority, there isn’t a dominant majority. I am accepted for who I am.”

Simon Liang

Simon Liang

21 Years’ Stall Holder in Surrey Street Market

Simon is an ambassador for CRoydon’s Surrey Street market, which is considered to be one of the oldest markets in Britain.

He’s had his vegetable stall for 21 years and he gets up at 2am every morning to buy the best, freshest vegetables to sell. He and his wife have successfully raised their 3 (now grown up) children here; one of whom went to Oxford University. “I like to make people feel comfortable and we’re always giving cookery lessons on the side, teaching people how to cook with Chinese vegetables.”

“Customers have realised the benefits of healthy eating and there’s been an increased interest in cooking at home.”

“First class produce for a first class customer.”

Gerald Manu

Gerald Manu

Founder of the fashion brand, Devacci

Without any funding, nor fashion training, Gerald relied on his own talent, resources and CRew to start his luxury fashion label, Devacci, whilst still at school.

Through his hard graft and unique talent, in only 7 years, Gerald has managed to build a successful fashion brand, which now employs a team of people, and a huge fan base world-wide.

“Competition motivates me. I like to beat the odds. I’ve learnt on the job and have a great team, built on a bond of friendship. We’ve had to use our own resources to build our brand.”

“I built my fashion brand selling crisps at school.”



Legend of Croydon

Bernard has been CRowned both Legend and King of Croydon by his fans. Originally from the West Indies, he loves reggae music, and of course, dancing to a crowd.

If you’re lucky, you might spot Bernard dancing in North End or George Street, just for the pure pleasure of it. He has a lot of local fans, who even made him his customised neon yellow jacket, and he’s quite the Youtube star. “I’ve been dancing since I was a little boy in the West Indies. My grandmother used to leave me at home with only the radio. I’d turn up the volume on the radio and rock in a rocking chair. Radio rocking. Then I started dancing. My granny’s home could open right up, so people from the village would stop and watch me dance.”

“Croydon? Of course I love it, it’s my town. And everybody love me. When I dance, everybody love me.”


You can read more about the CR campaign at:

You can read more about the creative concept behind the campaign at:

Sign up for our newsletter

Keep up-to-date-with the latest news and updates by subscribing to our monthly newsletter