Belfast Telegraph

Lightbody pays tribute to his father who passed away days before news of his son's OBE

Gary Lightbody with his father Jack, who had been living with dementia for a number of years
Gary Lightbody with his father Jack, who had been living with dementia for a number of years
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody has spoken of his profound sadness that his late father will not be around to see him receive honours from the Queen.

But the talented singer-songwriter said that his beloved dad Jack, who passed away over the Christmas period, would have been "so proud" to know that an OBE has been bestowed upon him for Services to Music and Charity.

The 43-year-old rock star from Bangor, Co Down also promised to think of his father every day - but especially on the day that his mum Lynne accompanies him on his visit to Buckingham Palace to accept the prestigious award.

Having learned of the accolade just days after saying a final goodbye to the man "who'll be in my heart and all my family's hearts for the rest of our lives", Gary acknowledged both his parents in a loving tribute.

"I wish my dad was here as he'd have been so proud but I'll think of him on the day as I will every day," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"My mum is delighted. She'll get to go to Buckingham Palace for the first time and I'm so happy we'll have a lovely day together."

This year, as Snow Patrol celebrated their 25th anniversary as a band, Gary also spoke publicly about his struggles with depression and alcoholism and voiced his concerns about his father's ongoing battle with dementia.

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He helped establish Belfast's Oh Yeah Music Centre, which supports aspiring musicians in getting a foothold in the industry, while his Lightbody Foundation was established in 2019 to support charities in Northern Ireland dealing with issues like mental health, depression and youth engagement.

Despite his selfless pursuits, he told this newspaper it was "absolutely bonkers" to be in line for an OBE, adding that he was "honoured" to be recognised and he also described the award as being the product of "a village".

"I wouldn't be getting it without my brothers in Snow Patrol with whom I have been through so much in the last 25 amazing years, all the wonderful people at the Oh Yeah Centre Belfast and all the wonderful people working at and with the Lightbody Foundation," he said.

Gary also thanked "the people of Northern Ireland who have supported Snow Patrol from the get-go" and said he'd "be nothing" without them.

"So, thank you to the people of our wee country," he said.

"There's really no such thing as an individual award in my opinion.

"I previously said it takes a village but actually, for me, it took a whole country."

In a sentimental social media post, Gary shared family pictures of his father in the aftermath of his death, revealing that his funeral had taken place on Christmas Eve "with family and close friends".

He hailed his mother a "titan" in caring for her husband and he also praised his sister, niece and care home staff.

"My mum Lynne looked after him in his illness for years and her strength in all this has been a mighty thing to behold," he wrote on Instagram.

"Also my mum, my sister Sarah (who is also a titan) and my awesome niece Honey and myself would like to say a massive thank you to the staff at Oakmont Care Home for their wonderful care of him over the last eight months."

Gary added: "If anyone met my dad at a [Snow Patrol] gig or feels like they know him through the songs I wrote about him (Soon, I Think Of Home, Lifening) then, if you like, please raise a glass to him the next time you have a wee drink and say 'cheers big Jack'. He would've liked that."

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