Belfast Telegraph

OBE for Chasing Cars singer Gary Lightbody as he remembers late father

The Snow Patrol hit was the most widely played song of the 21st century on radio.

Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody (Niall Carson/PA)
Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody (Niall Carson/PA)

By Michael McHugh and Alex Green, PA

Snow Patrol front man Gary Lightbody has been made an OBE just days after his father died.

The grief-stricken star made the New Year Honours list for services to music and charity in Northern Ireland.

Friends paid tribute to a proud ambassador for his country who loved creating positive change.

His father Jack’s funeral was held on Christmas Eve.

I don’t know what life looks like without him, I can’t even comprehend it, but he’ll be in my heart and all my family’s hearts for the rest of our lives Gary Lightbody

The singer songwriter said: “I don’t know what life looks like without him, I can’t even comprehend it, but he’ll be in my heart and all my family’s hearts for the rest of our lives.”

He helped found Snow Patrol, which went from struggling indie outfit to global success with their hit Chasing Cars.

The melancholic anthem – Grammy and Brit Award nominated – rocketed the Northern Irish-Scottish outfit to stardom on both sides of the Atlantic.

And it was Lightbody’s keening vocals that gave the track its long-lasting appeal.

He was made an OBE after he founded the Lightbody Foundation, a group which gives annual donations to charities across the country.

It has helped organisations promoting dementia care.

His father spent years with the condition and the singer songwriter praised his mother Lynne’s titanic strength in looking after him.

He said: “I just wanted to pay tribute to the man that taught me and gave me so much.

“He was the funniest man I’ve ever known.

“Even in the depths of his dementia he could still be as sharp and hilarious as ever at times.”

Lightbody also created the Belfast-based Oh Yeah Music Centre which helps musicians get a foothold in the industry.

His friend John D’Arcy was founding chairman and said: “He has a real love of people here and the Oh Yeah Centre in the first instance but then the Lightbody Foundation is giving a wider span of activity to do.”

His Lightbody Foundation was established in 2019 to support charities in Northern Ireland dealing with issues like mental health, depression and youth engagement.

Close friend Davy Matchett, 44, said: “He does it because he is a good man.

“He does not have to but he sees the value in it.

“He loves Belfast, he loves Northern Ireland, he loves home, he loves people and he loves doing what he can to bring about positive change.”

Lightbody, 43, was born in Bangor, Co Down, in 1976 and attended Campbell College in Belfast.

It was there that he was first introduced to the work of Irish poet Seamus Heaney, an experience that inspired him to first write poetry, then songs.

In 1994 he left home for Scotland and a degree in English literature at the University of Dundee.

The same year, Lightbody formed Shrug with Mark McClelland and Michael Morrison, using the name Polar Bear for a time before settling on Snow Patrol.

They found success in the wake of the by then world-weary Britpop movement, with their soaring guitar sound and earnest lyrics.

Their fourth album, 2006’s Eyes Open, and its hit single Chasing Cars, propelled them to greater fame, with the track becoming the most widely played song of the 21st century on radio.

PA

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