The council is to confer the Freedom of the City of Lisburn and Castlereagh upon Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE, the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim.
A proposal by Alderman William Leathem that the council bestow its highest honour upon Mrs Christie was unanimously supported by elected representatives at their meeting on March 27.
Alderman Leathem said the Freedom of the City - the first time the honour has been given to anyone by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council - was in recognition of Mrs Christie’s role and service as Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim and for her dedicated and continuous support to the council area.
Several councillors spoke about Mrs Christie with great warmth and affection as the motion to confer the Freedom of City was unanimously agreed.
Mrs Christie was appointed Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim in 2008 and has a long association with the former Lisburn City Council and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council. She is a representative of HM the Queen in Northern Ireland and has welcomed a number of international visitors including Presidents as well as Royal Family members to the Province. She was recently honoured by the Queen in the New Year Honours, and received the Commander of the Victorian Order honour (CVO) showing the regard in which she is held.
Over the last 10 years, since Mrs Christie’s appointment as Lord Lieutenant, each Mayor of the council (former and present council) has worked closely with her and received her at a number of council functions. This includes the recent visit by HRH Prince Edward to Lisburn on Friday, March 9, where Mrs Christie accompanied him at the Homecoming Parade of 2 Rifles.
She was also in attendance at the 40-year commemorative La Mon Service as the Queen’s representative in February 2018.
Alderman Leathem said: “We are so very fortunate to have had the support and unfailing public commitment Mrs Joan Christie has provided. Mrs Christie is held in the highest esteem in this council and in many other council areas. She is very well known for her work in public service including the area of education provision, in which she has a very special interest, and was a member of the South Eastern Education and Library Board. She was Assistant Private Secretary to former Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland until 1979 and was Deputy Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim from 2005 until her current role as Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim.
“She has attended numerous council events including Freedom of the City events, functions and church services, and was present at our first meeting of the new Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council in 2015. She was heavily involved in our celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee back in 2012, and she has supported this council and every Mayor of the council over the last 10 years, including myself, and each of us has our own special memories of the personableness, ease and kindness of Mrs Christie.
“She has made so many people that she has been in contact with feel very special with her genuine interest in talking to people and through her warmth and grace.
“At our full council meeting many Members recounted stories where Mrs Christie had gone above and beyond what they would have expected, and this is typical of her caring and graceful nature.”
Alderman Leathem’s proposal was seconded by Alderman Paul Porter - both former Mayors.
The current Mayor, Councillor Tim Morrow, was among those who voiced their support for the proposal.
Alderman Leathem concluded: “Mrs Christie will finish her role as Lord Lieutenant in 2019 when she will be 75 and I have no doubt that she has set a very high benchmark for whoever will follow in her footsteps. It is entirely fitting that her public service and unstinting public duty be formally recognised by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council in its first Freedom of the City conferment.”