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Arise, Sir Jeffrey: DUP's Donaldson 'humbled' at award

By Chris McCullough

The DUP's chief whip and the region's longest-serving MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

He is the first member of the party to be granted the honour, which we was given for his services to politics.

Mr Donaldson joined singing legend Rod Stewart in receiving a knighthood.

A total of 101 people - a record number - from Northern Ireland were named in the list.

All six counties were represented, and 48% of the local recipients were female.

A delighted Mr Donaldson said: "I was shocked yet humbled when I was informed of the knighthood from Her Majesty on her 90th birthday.

"I count it as a great honour to receive this recognition. It is as much for the people of Lagan Valley and Northern Ireland as it is for me.

"It's also a tribute to my family, as well as my political career, and I am thankful that my wife, Eleanor, will share in the honour as well."

Mr Donaldson was told the good news more than 10 days ago and was ordered to keep it secret until yesterday.

"I was informed about the honour two weeks ago and, yes, I was told to keep it quiet," Sir Jeffrey admitted.

"For anyone that knows me, they will know it is not easy for me to be quiet.

"I am the first person in the DUP to receive a knighthood, but it won't change the person I am nor my dedication to represent the people of Lagan Valley in Parliament.

"Buckingham Palace will be in touch to make the arrangements for the presentation.

"I hope my family and the community share this recognition with me. I really am truly grateful to be chosen for such an honour."

The youngest local recipient on the Queen's Honours List was 21-year-old Gary Doyle (above), from Castlewellan, who received the British Empire Medal for services to skills.

Mr Doyle received a gold medal for his plumbing and heating skills at the 2015 World Skills in Sao Paulo.

The oldest Northern Ireland recipient was Stanley McIlroy, from Belfast, who at the grand age of 92 received the Member of the British Empire award. Mr McIlroy was given his award for charitable services, having raised more than £1m for various charities including £850,000 for Cancer Research UK.

Stanley said: "We had just returned from a week in Tenerife and saw this rather important looking letter in the mail box. I could hardly believe what it said. "It's great to have my efforts recognised in this way in east Belfast. My wife, Noreen, is really looking forward to the trip to Buckingham Palace."

Elsewhere, a husband and wife were both given the British Empire Medal.

William and Elizabeth McCay, from Belfast, received the honours for services to music after they organised a series of summer recitals in the first non-subscribing Presbyterian Church in Rosemary Street in the centre of the city.

In the national awards, rock veteran Rod Stewart was given a knighthood. Cricketer Alastair Cook received the CBE, along with former footballer Alan Shearer and journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter.

Receiving an OBE was Scottish tennis player Jamie Murray, Andy's brother, and tennis coach Leon Smith.

Television double act Ant and Dec were also given an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Belfast Telegraph


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