Ernie Cromie, who is well known for his tireless work with the Ulster Aviation Society at Maze/Long Kesh, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Mr Cromie, who is 72, joined the Ulster Aviation Society over 35 years ago and for thirty years he served as Chairman of the Society.
Now he has been recognised for his hard work and dedication, with the citation for the honour praising his efforts to promote heritage through the Aviation Society.
“I have been an aviation enthusiast since I was five years old,” explained Mr Cromie.
“I joined the Ulster Aviation Society over 35 years ago and I am still a very active member.
“During the time I have been in the Society I have seen it develop and become an educational charity.
“It has created far and away the largest collection of historical aircraft and memorabilia in Northern Ireland, and indeed in Ireland.
“Research has been a very big part of what we do, particularly research into Northern Ireland’s aviation history.
“Lisburn has played a huge part in aviation history. At one point it was the cradle of aviation for the whole of Ireland.
“The fact that we as a Society are based in Lisburn gives me great pleasure.”
Mr Cromie was both shocked and pleased to learn that he had been awarded the British Empire Medal.
“I was delighted to be told I was getting the award,” he said.
“It was a total surprise. I had no indication of it until I got the letter.”
Mr Cromie is looking forward to paying a visit to Buckingham Palace to receive his medal. However, this won’t be the first time he has met members of the Royal family.
“I met Prince William and Katherine when they were in Hillsborough,” he explained. “Prince William was flying helicopters with the RAF at the time and we spoke about aviation.
“Many years ago I was at the palace with the Army Cadet Force and we were reviewed by the Queen, who had only just succeeded to the throne.
“It is definitely something to look forward to.”
The Chairman of the Ulster Aviation Society, Mr Ray Burrows, congratulated Mr Cromie on his award.
“Ernie has been a tireless worker in the aviation heritage field over the last 30 years, not only on the Society’s behalf but for countless individuals,” he said. “To say he is this country’s expert in aviation heritage matters would be a gross understatement. I can honestly say he has earned this honour and every single member of the Society is justifiably proud and pleased that he has been honoured in this way.”