It was a very busy few days in the run up to the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day on Saturday. VJ Day marked the victory over Japan on 15th August 1945 and signified the end of WW2.
There were events held across the County, which the Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell, and the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Miranda Gordon, DL, took part in.
Due to COVID19, all events were undertaken in accordance with social distancing requirements and many were held virtually, with wreath laying and speeches recorded in advance. Please see below to watch the video compiled by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, which includes the Lord-Lieutenant laying a wreath in Carrickfergus and delivering a speech about VJ Day.
The Lieutenancy would like to thank Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council for organising so many events across the County to mark this poignant anniversary. It was fantastic to see the Councils continue to embrace modern technology by providing virtual events so people could take part, even if they were unable to attend.
The Lieutenancy took part in the following VJ Day events:
For further information on the events held by the respective Councils, please click on the links below:
The Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell, attended an event for the volunteers of St John’s Ambulance, from Mid and East Antrim, where they were presented with certificates by the Mayor at a special reception in Ballymena Showgrounds.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, presented 41 Certificates for volunteers and four to the District Branches at the event for their work throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Also in attendance was the Regional Manager of St John's Ambulance Northern Ireland, William McCormick.
The Lord-Lieutenant said "St John has a long and prestigious history of assisting during a crisis and working with other key organisations to provide critical care. As the nation's leading health and first aid charity in Northern Ireland, staff were on the ‘front line’, yet again, alongside their colleagues in the Health and Social Care Trusts and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) to provide much needed ambulance resources for patient transfers during the current epidemic.
That sense of service, teamwork and collaboration has undoubtedly been the light during the darkness of this pandemic. I would like to thank all the St John volunteers and staff who served so selflessly during this crisis, both on the front line and in the vital support roles."
For further information please see the Council's Press Release, by clicking here.
Colonel Norman Walker, OBE, TD, JP, DL represented the Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim today in Carrickfergus to welcome the arrival of two of the Royal Navy's P2000 vessels on their summer deployment. HMS Biter and HMS Charger (P292) arrived from Scotland.
During the reception, it was announced that Armed Forces Day 2021 will be held in Carrickfergus. The Antrim Lieutenancy looks forward to hosting such a special day. Carrickfergus and County Antrim enjoy a long standing relationship with all of the Armed Forces.
Also in attendance was the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr Peter Johnston, Council Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, and representatives from all three service branches of Her Majesty's Armed Forces.
The Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell, laid a wreath on behalf of HM The Queen to commemorate the 104th Anniversary of the Battle of The Somme at the Carrickfergus War Memorial. In particular, the heroic contribution of the 36th Ulster Division was remembered.
The short Service of Remembrance was organised by the Carrickfergus Branch of the British Legion. The Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Peter Johnston, and representatives from Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, the UDR and the Carrickfergus Branch of the British Legion also laid wreaths.
Social distancing was adhered to throughout the short ceremony.
To mark the first anniversary of the appointment of Mr David McCorkell as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, we’ve done a socially distanced Q&A with him:
It’s been a year since your appointment, have you enjoyed it?
I can’t believe it’s been a year already, as the old saying goes: ‘time flies when you’re having fun’. It is such a pleasure, and a huge privilege, to serve as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of this wonderful County. It has been unfortunate that this unforeseen lockdown has fallen in my first year, I really look forward to being able to get out and about in the County more as restrictions ease.
What have been the highlights?
There have been many highlights and obviously the Royal Visits are particularly special. My first visit was for The Open Championship at Royal Portrush. Watching Shane Lowry lift the famed claret jug after his masterclass in links golf was incredible. I was so proud to see Portrush on the world stage.
Meeting HM The Queen, at Buckingham Palace, was also a day that my wife and I will always treasure.
More generally, I’ve really enjoyed just getting out and meeting so many interesting people and learning about the incredible initiatives going on across the County.
What have your focuses been for your first year in office?
I was keen to bring the Lieutenancy into the 21st Century and increase our presence online to raise awareness and reach out to a new generation, by following the excellent example set by the Royal Households. We’ve a website now, which I hope acts as a useful point of reference.
We’ve also got a growing Twitter following (@ALieutenancy), which has been a great success. Whilst we can’t always share everything that’s going on in the Lieutenancy, it’s an excellent way to raise awareness of local causes, promote the Armed Forces and communicate key messages. It has really come into its own during lockdown.
What could the Lieutenancy do better?
It is important that the Lieutenancy remains relevant and approachable so we must continue to adapt and move with the times.
As a retired businessman, I would also like to see more applicants for the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and the Lieutenancy, with the support of the Councils, have a key role to play in raising awareness about this prestigious award.
We couldn’t do this without mentioning COVID19, what have you learnt from the pandemic?
I’ve learnt that volunteering is most definitely alive and well. It has been so inspiring to read all the selfless stories of all the volunteers and key workers. I’m very proud of the way the people of County Antrim have come together to care for each other. The voluntary sector remains under huge financial strain and we must all work together to make sure it can continue its vital contribution to our communities.
I’ve also learnt of the importance of being adaptable: I’ve found social media a particularly important way to communicate and by embracing technology it is still possible to attend meetings and take part in events virtually, like the VE Day Commemorations. It was wonderful to see HM The Queen take part in a Zoom call recently.
Finally, tell us something that people might not know about you?
I become a grandfather for the first time at the end of last year. Due to lockdown, my wife and I have found it frustrating not being able to play a bigger part in our Granddaughter’s first year as she lives in England.
The Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell, took part in the virtual Service of Remembrance organised by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council to mark the 104th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and the significant contribution of the 36th Ulster Division.
As part of the commemoration, the Lord-Lieutenant laid a wreath at Knockagh War Memorial, Carrickfergus. He was joined by representatives from other County Antrim councils.
To watch the virtual Service of Remembrance, please click on the video below:
For further information, please visit the Council website by clicking here.
Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell, today raised the flag to mark the start of Armed Forces Week 2020, in Carrickfergus.
The event was organised by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council. Attendees also included the First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and representatives from RFCA NI and the Armed Forces. Due to COVID19 restrictions, the event had to go ahead on a smaller scale than planned and strict social distancing was adhered to.
The Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell, has written to Mr Liam Kelly, JP, DL, to wish him a very happy 75th birthday. Liam retires today as a Deputy Lieutenant of County Antrim having served for 24 years. He was appointed in 1996 by the Lord O'Neill, KCVO, TD, and has served under three Lord-Lieutenants.
The Lord-Lieutenant said "I would like to express my sincere thanks to Liam for his service and send him all best wishes for his retirement".
The results of this year’s QAVS (Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service) have just been officially announced by Buckingham Palace and the winners published in the London Gazette. Three organisations in County Antrim have been granted this prestigious accolade:
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. The Award scheme was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The prestigious recognition is the equivalent of an MBE for voluntary groups. It is the highest form of civic award that can be granted to an organisation in recognition of the outstanding work of volunteers. Each applicant is subjected to a rigorous assessment process at both Northern Ireland and United Kingdom levels.
The Lord-Lieutenant for County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell, has expressed his congratulations to the successful organisations. "I am delighted that three organisations from County Antrim have been granted the QAVS in 2020. The award is a wonderful achievement and it recognises the commitment and dedication of volunteers who make such an important contribution to their local communities. The importance of volunteering to civic life has never been more important than at the present time and I am delighted that so many volunteer groups across the County have been actively engaged in supporting their local communities during the present pandemic. I look forward to meeting the volunteers from each of the three successful organisations at their individual award ceremonies which will hopefully be organised in a few months’ time".
The three awardee groups this year represent a wide cross section of the innovative service being offered by volunteers:
Coaching 4 Christ – Based in Ahoghill, C4C aims to transform the lives of young people through sport. It has been operational for over 15 years during which time over 100,000 young people have benefitted from the services provided by the organisation’s 60 volunteers.
As a highly valued and respected part of the local community, its excellent reputation has spread across the globe and C4C is now recognised as an excellent example of good practice worldwide. As a result, volunteers have visited other countries such as Spain and Uganda to impart the organisation’s principles of commitment, unity and life transformation through sport. International visitors have also visited the Ahoghill centre in order to gain an insight into the organisation’s unique work with young people. The C4C Youth Academy currently has 250 young people enrolled. Volunteers help with sports coaching and character/lifestyle in the C4C centre itself as well as in schools, community centres, churches and other venues across Northern Ireland.
Mae Murray Foundation – Based in Larne, the Foundation provides support for the creation of an inclusive society with true participation for ALL in leisure and social settings, regardless of age or personal ability. The organisation has a vision that everyone should be able to participate within society regardless of complexity of support needed to do so.
Approximately 600 people who are affected by social isolation and exclusion, as a result of disability, age, medical condition or caring responsibilities have benefited directly from the Foundation’s work. The volunteers are committed to improving outcomes of people of all ages and they work tirelessly to develop solution-based ideas to support inclusion for all. Formal partnership arrangements have been developed with several local authorities across Northern Ireland. The Foundation is highly respected at both regional and national level. It featured on the 2019 BBC Children in Need programme when there was a major feature on their ‘Inclusive Beaches’ initiative.
Ballymoney Branch of the Royal British Legion – This group is committed to supporting ex-service personnel and local communities in the Ballymoney area to prevent social isolation through shared activities and cross-community integration. The organisation has been recognised for the work which its 30 volunteers are doing in providing advice and
services to challenge issues such as loneliness within the local community. They promote the physical and mental well being of individuals many of whom live in areas of social deprivation. Comradeship is encouraged as well as actively encouraging opportunities for social integration. Each year the Branch reaches out to and supports over 900 people in the Ballymoney area and assists, in partnership with Council, in the delivery of a number of community related programmes. The Branch premises are used by a wide range of organisations in the Ballymoney area. Local members have also been involved with the Gurkha welfare Trust to build houses in Nepal.
Clearly the ‘volunteering’ spirit is still alive and well in County Antrim. The three organisations to be recognised in the 2020 QAVS awards demonstrate the importance for everyone to offer their time, knowledge and skills in supporting others. Presentation ceremonies will be held in due course as circumstances allow. This will provide a further opportunity to celebrate all that is good about volunteering in our society.
If you would like to find out more about the QAVS, please have our look at our webpage, here, and visit the QAVS website: https://qavs.culture.gov.uk/
At 11am this morning the North Irish Horse Regimental Association organised a wreath laying party, in Carrickfergus, to commemorate the 76th Anniversary of the battles of the Hitler Line, which took place in Italy in 1944. The North Irish Horse provided vital support to the Canadian Infantry. As a result of the breaking of the Hitler Line and in "appreciation of the support they received" the regiment was asked by the Canadians to wear the Maple Leaf insignia of the Canadian Military, which they wear to this day.
Due to Government restrictions, strict social distancing measures were were in place, there was no parade or social gathering afterwards. It was also decided that the wreath laying party would not wear uniform.
Wreath laying party:
1). Mr David McCorkell; HM's Lord-Lieutenant for County Antrim
2) Alderman Maureen Morrow; Madam Mayor, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
3) Colonel Nick Tougher for the People and Government of Canada
4) Colonel John Rollins, MBE; Honorary Colonel The North Irish Horse
5) Major David Weir; Officer Commanding B (North Irish Horse) Squadron, Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry (SNIY), for all serving officers and soldiers of SNIY Sabre Sqn and R Signals Sqn.
The Act of Remembrance:
On completion of the wreath laying the Standard bearer dipped the Standard. The Orator, Major Derek Irvine R Sigs (V), read the "Ode to the fallen" and recited the names of the 34 North Irish Horse killed in action.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Honours and awards