Locals recognised by the Queen in Birthday Honours

A host of local people were honoured by the Queen in this year’s Birthday Honours

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 4:06 pm
Robert Yarr
Robert Yarr

Representing all walks of life, those honoured are a credit to the city of Lisburn.

Two local church organists have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Robert Yarr, 78, was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to music in Ballinderry Parish Church, and Rosemary Steele, organist in Magheragall and Stoneyford parishes, received a BEM for services to community relations.

Joy Spreadborough

Robert, a retired jewellery agent, has been organist in Ballinderry for an incredible 60 years this month.

He said he was very excited about the honour from Her Majesty.

“It is lovely to be acknowledged and nice that church organists are being recognised,” Robert added.

Rosemary started playing the organ at St Peter’s, Ballymacward (The Rock Chapel), when she was just 16. Outside of the pandemic, Sunday is a busy day for Rosemary, as she plays at St Peter’s at 10am, St John’s, Stoneyford, at 11.30am and in more recent years, Magheragall at 6.30pm.

Dr Afaf Ali

The rector of Magheragall, the Rev Nicholas Dark, said: “Congratulations to Rosemary and I know she is greatly humbled and sees her award in the context of the good community relations which exist in this rural community.”

Drumbo woman Joy Spreadborough is the coordinator for Marie Curie’s Helper Service. Since it began in 2013 Joy has worked tirelessly to help to develop the befriending service, which now has over 100 volunteers across Northern Ireland. However it was during the recent pandemic that her coordination skills really came into their own when the lack of PPE for the Marie Curie nurses meant a mobilisation of the volunteers to get the PPE to the nurses who needed them every day.

When she was contacted about the Birthday Honour she couldn’t quite believe it was real. “I thought it was a scam,” she said. “I looked up the number on the letter and realised it wasn’t a scam at all.

“I was so shocked. There are so many other people who deserve it. I felt a bit guilty. I couldn’t do what I do without our volunteers.”

Rosemary Steele

Dr Afaf Ali, Chair of the Egyptian Society of Northern Ireland, has lived in Lisburn for over 20 years and has been recognised for her services to UK-Egypt relations and to anti-racism in Northern Ireland.

“I was surprised when I got the email about the honuor as I did not know about it,” she said. “I was very happy as I felt that my hard work for 15 years has eventually been recognised at the highest level and it is a very good honour for me to get such recommendation. I got the email in the first day of Eid which is the day Muslims celebrate at the end of fasting the month of Ramadan.

“I’m looking forward to meeting Her Majesty in person and I consider that a very big honor for me and for all the Egyptians living in the UK. “

Road racing legend Ray McCullough, who lives in Dromore, was known as the ‘Dromara Destroyer’ and has been made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for Services to Motorbike Racing.

Primarily a specialist on 250cc and 350cc machines, he excelled particularly at Dundrod, winning seven races in all.

Mrs Tracey Elliott, Manager, Lisburn Unit, St John Ambulance was awarded a BEM for voluntary service to St John Ambulance and the community in Northern Ireland.

Dunmurry man Daniel Burke, who is a store manager at Iceland Foods was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, as was world renowned consultant Prof Roy Spence, who lives in Hillsborough. Maureen Adair, from Dromore, was also recognised for her services to Girl Guiding in Northern Ireland.