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Obituary: Cecil Ward, ‘a man of great charm and wisdom’


Cecil Ward has died aged 92

Cecil Ward has died aged 92

Artwork Copyright: the artist; P

Cecil Ward has died aged 92

Cecil Ward, who died recently, was a former Town Clerk of Belfast City Council from 1979-1989. He was 92.

He was born on October 26, 1929 and educated at the Belfast College of Technology before beginning his career at 18 with the then Belfast Corporation in 1947.

In a career spanning over 40 years, he began as a Clerk of the Council before rising through the ranks to become the Committee Clerk, Chief Clerk, Assistant Town Clerk and finally Town Clerk, a post known today as Chief Executive Officer.

He served through some of the worst years of the Troubles, and was respected on all sides for his ability, integrity, political wisdom and sense of humour.

After retirement he had the rare accolade of a public building being named after him — the Cecil Ward Building in Linen Hall Street Belfast.

The then Lord Mayor Reg Empey paid tribute to him at the time and said that he had “exercised a vital role during a very difficult period in the Council’s history”.

He was recognised for his services by being appointed a CBE by the Queen.

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Mr Ward had a wide cultural background and, among several other public appointments, he was chairman of the Ulster Orchestra from 1990-94.

He led the orchestra on important foreign tours to South Korea and the USA, and as a board member to Europe where the highlight was a performance in the world-famous Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna.

His predecessor as chairman, Stratton Mills, said: “Cecil was my friend for 40 years and played a significant role on the board as a non-executive director.

"He was shrewd and a man of great charm who could be very persuasive.”

Mr Ward was also a co-opted member of the Senate at Queen’s University, which awarded him an honorary MA degree in 1988.

Denis Wilson, a former secretary to Senate, said: “Cecil was a sociable and cultured person who made an important contribution to Queen’s, particularly in the prestigious 1989 conference of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.”

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