Northern Ireland writer behind Shankill memoir honoured for his peace building
Author and broadcaster Tony Macaulay has been honoured for his services to literature and peace building at home and abroad.
Mr Macaulay was yesterday made an honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) by Ulster University, having spent over 30 years working to build peace and reconciliation with hundreds of youth and community groups, schools, churches and government agencies.
An internationally published author, his critically acclaimed debut memoir, Paperboy, reflected on his experiences growing up on the Shankill Road.
In the late 1990s, Mr Macaulay worked for the Rural Community Network, supporting community groups and organisations, and influencing government policy.
Now a recognised inspirational speaker and leadership development consultant with global organisations and a member of the Global YMCA Committee on Conflict Transformation, he currently coaches a youth empowerment project in one of the biggest slums in Kampala, Uganda.
Meanwhile, the first adult in Northern Ireland to receive a liver transplant from a living donor said it "feels fantastic" to be graduating from Queen's University Belfast today.
Aaron Smyth, from Co Tyrone, took ill while studying mechanical engineering at Queen's.
The Omagh man suffered from a chronic auto-immune liver disease, which affected his health and meant he had to take time out of his studies.
Subsequently, because of his liver disease, Aaron was placed on the list for a transplant.
At the end of 2016, aged 23, he became the first adult from Northern Ireland to receive a 'live' liver transplant, which was donated by his cousin, Robert.
A 'living' donor transplant means that part of a donor's liver is removed and transplanted into the recipient.
Over the subsequent months, the remaining parts of the liver grow back to full size, providing normal liver function to both the donor and the recipient.
Aaron took two years out of his studies due to his illness, but returned to QUB in 2017 to complete his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Aaron said staff at Queen's were very supportive and understanding throughout.
"They ensured I was able to come back when I was ready without any issues," he said.
After graduation, he will start his job in TESAB Engineering and will marry his fiancee, Eimear, next May.
Brother and sister Matthew and Fiona Nethercott from Belfast will also graduate today from Queen's Management School.
Matthew (21) is graduating with a BSc in Accounting while Fiona (22) will receive her BSc in Business Management.
Coincidently their parents, Siobhan and Andrew Nethercott, also both graduated from Queen's University on the exact same date in 1991.
Following their graduation, Matthew will take up a PgD in Advanced Accounting at Ulster University and then a position at KPMG in 2020.
During her final year, Fiona worked part-time at OCO Global in Belfast, and has now accepted a full-time position as a market research analyst with the company.
Young entrepreneur Georgia Hamill (21) from Moy in Co Tyrone will also graduate with a BSc in Business Management.