Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Liam Neeson is cutting it just fine ahead of hometown honour

Liam Neeson will play an ageing hitman in The All Nighter
Liam Neeson

He's famous the world over as the star of hit films including Taken and Schlinder's List but today Liam Neeson will take on a very different role — that of Freeman of Ballymena.

And the 60-year-old is keen to look his best when he comes under the spotlight in the Co Antrim town’s Braid Arts Centre — by having a trim in a local barbers before the big ceremony.

Neeson is booked in for an early-morning haircut in a modest salon close to where he grew up before his stellar movie career was launched.

This afternoon, 200 special guests will gather in the Braid building for the award, which was proposed by Neeson family friend and mayor of Ballymena PJ McAvoy back in November.

Among them is expected to be the mother and sister of his late wife Natasha Richardson, actors Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson.

His sisters Elizabeth, Bernadette and Rosaleen are also set to join Liam along with his 16-year-old son Daniel.

Neeson was given 50 tickets for the gala gathering, and distributed most to friends from his old boxing club, All Saints, and former school classmates.

Another lucky recipient was a local binman whose name was drawn from a list of council employees last week.

Also joining Neeson will be a fellow Ballymena freeman — Lord Bannside.

Former First Minister Ian Paisley and wife Eileen will be on hand to congratulate Neeson, who has admitted he marvelled at Paisley’s sermons in Ballymena when growing up.

The red carpet will be rolled out this morning ahead of Neeson and mum Kitty’s arrival by limousine at 1.30pm.

He is expected to give a speech to the assembled family, friends, dignitaries and guests. A film tribute made by local school pupils will be shown.

A pastel painting of Slemish by artist Catherine Flood will also be presented to him with the ceremony set to end at 4.30pm.

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