Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea awarded Freedom of the Borough of Antrim and Newtownabbey

The Belfast Telegraph's Sports Star of the Year Jonathan Rea has picked up another accolade today as he was given he Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Antrim and Newtownabbey

The prestigious award was bestowed to Jonathan at a public ceremony in the Theatre at The Mill in Newtownabbey on Tuesday evening, just hours after he retained his Belfast Telegraph crown.


Over 200 fans turned out to join Jonathan's family and friends as well as Elected Members of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Freemen of the Borough and other invited guests for the momentous occasion.

He follows fellow sporting stars Sir AP McCoy OBE and rugby legend Dr Willie John McBride CBE on the Council’s Roll of Honourable Freemen.

“To be made a Freeman of the Borough is a humbling experience and a significant honour for which I am extremely grateful and which I shall continue to treasure," said Jonathan. "I want to thank all those who not only have taken the time to join me here on this special occasion, but have supported me and travelled with me at my races all over the world.”

One of the privileges of the honour allows the recipient to take his livestock to market through the streets of the towns of the borough. It is normally awarded to local people and organisations who have, in the opinion of the Council, rendered eminent services to the Borough.

Elected Members previously proposed and agreed the award in recognition of Jonathan’s outstanding services to sport.

“Jonathan has well and truly put our country on the world stage and we are extremely proud to have him as one of Northern Ireland’s sporting ambassadors," said Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Paul Michael. "As the first rider to win four successive World Superbike titles, he can lay claim to be one of the best two-wheel competitors across the globe.

“We consider it a great privilege that Jonathan has returned back here to Northern Ireland and to our Borough to lay his family roots. He is a truly worthy recipient of this honour and on behalf of the people of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough, I wish him every success as he begins his next season.”

As an acknowledgement to the Council, Jonathan presented the Mayor with one of his trophies, which he won at Lausitzring in Germany in 2017 after finishing in second place. Jonathan asked that this perpetual award be presented at the Council’s biannual Sports Awards to recognise the excellent sporting achievement of an individual within the Borough.

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