Belfast Telegraph

New Year Honours: Omagh centenarian Bob Lingwood's big surprise

 

Robert Lingwood
Robert Lingwood

By David Young

The oldest person to be recognised in the New Year Honours list is 100-year-old Bob Lingwood, of Omagh.

The centenarian Londoner - who has lived in the Co Tyrone town for 50 years - is to receive a British Empire Medal for his charitable work in the community.

"It's a great honour," the proud Cockney told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.

"It's certainly a big surprise! And in my 100th year - it's not bad going."

Most of his charity work involves helping people with disabilities, working with groups such as Probus, the Omagh Access Forum and Shopmobility.

"I've had one amazing fortunate life. My first 50 years was spent in London, where I got education and experience, and then I came to Omagh where I started up the Tyrone Shoe Factory.

"That was when I was 50. So this year we're also celebrating 50 years in Omagh."

Bob reckons he will receive his honour at a ceremony in Northern Ireland.

But he's not disappointed at not going to Buckingham Palace - he's been there several times already, the first in 1940 when he was presented the Military Medal by King George VI.

Early in the Second World War, Bob - who served in the Royal Signals - had been captured in France, but managed to escape under fire from his Nazi captors.

Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Willie John McBride- CBE for services to Rugby Union. Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy/BLL
Heather Smart, Northern Irelands first female Firefighter- MBE for services to the advancement of women in the fire and rescue service.
Gareth McAuley, Northern Ireland defender- MBE for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Crusaders Manager Stephen Baxter- BEM for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
UUP MLA Andy Allen- MBE for services to veterans and their families in Northern Ireland. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Professor Anne Carlisle, vice chancellor of Falmouth University, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her services to Higher Education and the regional economy.
Adrian McAllister, Deputy Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary. OBE for services to policing, criminal justice and child protection.
Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers Association- MBE for public service and charity
PSNI Inspector Rosie Leech- MBE for services to Policing and the Community in Northern Ireland. Credit: PA
Brian Ingram, Director of the Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre near Bangor- OBE for services to vulnerable children and adults in custody. Niall Carson/PA.
PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee- Queen's Police Medal (QPM). Credit: PSNI

Later in the war, he was posted to Lisburn, where he met and married a local girl. They returned after the war to set up the Tyrone Shoe Factory and begin the second half of his long and adventurous life.

Coming to Omagh was one of the best decisions he ever made, he said.

"Great town, lovely people.

"Great to work here, and great to retire here!

"I'm delighted and happy for all the people I work with - I've been very, very fortunate," he said.

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