Belfast Telegraph

TV's Eamonn Holmes and all the other recipients of honours deserve to have their contribution to society recognised

Editor's Viewpoint

The New Year Honours list includes a wide range of people with strong Ulster connections.

One of the best known is Eamonn Holmes, who has been appointed OBE.

In today's Belfast Telegraph he talks about this honour as "one for Northern Ireland".

North Belfast-born Eamonn has been a great ambassador for us.

He has used his high profile to provide a national audience with a different picture of life here.

He has always tried to accentuate what we have in common, rather than that which divides us. He is a top professional who works hard and moves easily through hard news, sport and lifestyle broadcasting.

He also has that indefinable quality of "likeability", which makes him a star.

Other notable awards include a knighthood for William Wright of Wrightbus, who has provided steady employment in producing transport vehicles to a high standard. It is also good to see Ellvena Graham, the current chair of the NI Economic Advisory Group, receiving the OBE.

However, just as the high-flyers earn their accolades, the less well-known people are rightly honoured, too.

They include those who work tirelessly for charity, and others who give time and effort to a range of good causes.

Among them is Margaret McDonald, who has been awarded the BEM after working for more than 45 years with the Girls' Brigade.

Her reaction is typical of those who are genuinely surprised at receiving such an accolade. She said: "I felt shocked, humbled and privileged."

Many other people see little point in the honours system, but recognising and rewarding public and community service should never go out of fashion.

When we recognise the contributions of these hitherto unsung heroes, we should all feel proud of their awards and of the representation locally.

Well done everyone.

Belfast Telegraph

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