Belfast Telegraph

NW 200 boss Mervyn honoured with freedom of the borough

By Brett Campbell

The director of the North West 200 said he feels humbled after being chosen to receive the Freedom of the Borough by Causeway Coast and Glens Council following a unamimous vote.

Mervyn Whyte MBE - who began his service as a road marshal at the 1973 North West 200 - described the decision as a "huge honour and privilege".

He also thanked the council for its many years of support for the annual speed race.

"I want to pay tribute to the hard working members of Coleraine and District Motor Club and the army of volunteers who put in so much effort to ensure the races take place each May," said the 67-year-old.

"The North West 200 is a massive event now, with huge international status. It has grown immensely over the past 10 to 15 years with the support of council and I hope it continues to do so over many more years to come."

Mr Whyte, who succeeded Billy Nutt to become clerk of the course in 2000, now manages a team of 800 volunteers who work all year round to ensure the success of one of the biggest sporting events in Ireland, which attracts a world-wide television audience of some 800 million.

The council decided to award the event director with the prestigious honour "in recognition of his services" at a special meeting on Thursday night.

It acknowledges his contribution to the NW 200 and motorsport in Northern Ireland.

East Londonderry MLA Clare Sugden congratulated Mr Whyte and acknowledged the contribution he has made in establishing safety as a primary focus of a race which attracts 85,000 sporting fans from home and abroad.

"Mervyn has worked tirelessly for many years and overcome a lot of adversity to make the NW200 the success that it is," she added.

The race is worth over £4m in tourism revenue to the local area and over £10m to the wider economy.

Ms Sugden praised the Limavady man's contribution to the community which she described as "so much more than the event itself".

The honour will be formally conferred on Mr Whyte at a ceremony next month.

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