Belfast Telegraph

New Year honours: Sport stars head list of 97 Northern Ireland people given royal recognition

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

By Stewart Robson

Two Northern Ireland footballing heroes, a former British Lions rugby captain and our first female firefighter are among those set to receive honours from the Queen.

Across the province, 97 people are being recognised for a wide range of services, from healthcare and teaching to business and sport.

Read the full list here: Northern Ireland New Year Honours 2019 - Full list

This year's oldest honours recipient in the UK is from Co Tyrone - as 100-year-old Second World War veteran Robert Lingwood will receive a BEM for services to the community.

Receiving an MBE is Afghanistan war veteran turned ulster Unionist politician Andy Allen (30), who described the honour as "extremely humbling and a real privilege".

Also joining the prestigious list are sporting greats such as former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg, fellow footballer Gareth McAuley, as well as Crusaders' long-serving manager Stephen Baxter.

Gregg, who is to receive an OBE, survived the Munich air disaster in 1958 and went on to play for Northern Ireland at the World Cup in the same year.

He pulled team-mates and civilians from the wreckage of the crashed plane in which 23 people died - a heroic role that he has always played down.

McAuley is bestowed with an MBE for his services to football in Northern Ireland. He scored the Green and White Army's first-ever goal at the European Championships in 2016 against Ukraine.

IFA president David Martin paid tribute to the two footballing heroes on their achievements.

"I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to both Harry and Gareth on these prestigious appointments," he said.

Gareth McAuley
Gareth McAuley
Willie John McBride

"They may have played in different generations, but both Harry and Gareth have represented Northern Ireland with distinction, both have put in historic performances in major international tournaments and both are keen supporters of charity.

"They are two of the country's all-time footballing greats and I am delighted that they have been honoured in this way."

 

Willie John McBride, who captained the British Lions as well as being a star of Irish rugby, receives a CBE.

Mr McBride, who now lives in Ballyclare, started playing when he was 17 at Ballymena and within four years was starring at international level for Ireland. Mr McBride told the Belfast Telegraph he was surprised to see the letter come through his door but was thrilled when he found out what it was.

In recent years he has been involved with a number of charities helping disabled and disadvantaged children.

"I'm really thrilled, a CBE is terrific," he said.

"When you get to this age, you think people have forgotten about you so it is nice to be remembered.

"The year 1974 was my Everest, to captain the Lions, and I would like to think this honour is shared with all the guys who were on that tour, because they really were outstanding and they made my job as captain very easy. This was completely unexpected."

Baxter has been at the Crusaders' helm since 2005 and has guided the club back from its lowest points to achieving league and cup titles. As a player he helped the Crues win their first league championship in almost 20 years in 1995.

Earlier this year he sold his retail business to dedicate all of his working time to managing the Shore Road side.

"Starting as a boy on the streets in east Belfast, to then receive something like this later in life is surreal," he said.

"To receive this for all your efforts and achievements is certainly very special. Winning awards locally is always great but this is the icing on the cake."

Joining them on the list is Heather Smart, Northern Ireland's first female firefighter, who receives an MBE.

Five members of the PSNI are honoured. Inspector Rosie Leech will receive an MBE, recently retired Sergeant David Knox will get a British Empire Medal, and three other officers will receive the Queen's Police Medal.

Also set to be honoured is Ballymena woman Joanne Rock, who was diagnosed in 2007 with breast cancer a month after her mother. She set up a dragon boat racing team in Belfast, the Lagan Dragons. The team is completely made up of breast cancer survivors. Joanne dedicated her BEM to her fellow rowers.

In education, QUB Professor David Noel Livingstone receives a CBE while Orangefield Primary School's principal Thomas Ernest Long is awarded an MBE.

Nicholas David George Coburn from Ulster Carpet Mills (CBE) and Melanie Elaine Christie-Boyle (MBE) of Ballymena Business Centre were also honoured.

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