Carrick Honours recipients tell of awards joy

Ian Beggs with his wife, Jean, at the Carrickfergus RFC 150th Anniversary Gala Dinner in June 2015.  INCT 02-723-CON
Ian Beggs with his wife, Jean, at the Carrickfergus RFC 150th Anniversary Gala Dinner in June 2015. INCT 02-723-CON

Five Carrickfergus residents have cause to celebrate after their hard work was recognised on the 2016 New Year Honours list.

Anthony Joseph McGeehan, Harold Atkinson Beckinsale, and Valerie Ann Barr will each receive a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Anthony McGeehan has been awarded the BEM. INCT 01-701-CON

Anthony McGeehan has been awarded the BEM. INCT 01-701-CON

Mr McGeehan has been recognised for his services to the community in Greenisland dating back nearly 60 years.

He founded the Greenisland Tenants’ Association in the late 1950s, a time when there were “very few services” in the area, he said.

“Greenisland is where my heart and soul is so I’m very proud to have received this honour; it’s a great legacy for my family,” the 87-year-old added.

Mr McGeehan also spent over 50 years as a member of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, serving as president of the St Colman’s Conference for some years and president of the East Antrim region.

“St Vincent de Paul always played a big part in my life,” he said.

Valerie Barr, personal assistant to the Dean of Social Sciences at Ulster University, will be picking up the award for services to Higher Education and to the community in Northern Ireland.

She has worked at the university for 39 years and in 2013 was awarded a Distinguished Employee Recognition Award.

The Honours citation pays tribute to her work with a small voluntary and self-financed corps group within Soon Ministries, which was involved in producing and dispatching Bientot broadsheets to French-speaking countries in Africa.

“I was absolutely delighted to hear the news [of the award],” said Ms Barr, who is based at the university’s Jordanstown site.

Harold Beckinsale has been recognised for voluntary service to education in Northern Ireland.

Known as Harry, Mr Beckinsale is from the Prospect area of the town. Through his family business, along with his background as a professional musician, the local man has supported a number of charitable endeavours, including several special needs schools.

He has a particular association with Fleming Fulton School, where he is vice-chair of the board of governors.

He secured funding for a number of projects at the Belfast school, including a new sports field and the refurbishment and creation of a family room, which parents can use either as a waiting area or as a private space.

Meanwhile, a background in sport features heavily for two further recipients on the Honours list.

Dr Leslie Caul has been appointed an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the annual awards, while Ian Hugh Beggs becomes a MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).

Greenisland man Leslie is being recognised for services to education and sport in Northern Ireland.

The local man also has a background in politics, having served as Mayor of Newtownabbey from 1983-1986. He was also a UUP councillor from 1973-1989.

Dr Caul taught at Carrickfergus Grammar School from 1968 until 1974, moving on to Stranmillis College in 1973/74.

He retired in 2009.

His main interests are cooking and football, having appeared on Masterchef in the early 1990s and winning the Northern Ireland and Scotland heats.

Dr Caul is an independent member of the Irish Football Association and served as chairman from 2010 until 2015.

Meanwhile, Carrickfergus Rugby Club’s Ian Beggs is being commended for his services to the sport.

In a statement, club president Bill Crymble said: “As we draw our 150th Anniversary celebrations to a close, it gives me immense pride as president of Carrickfergus Rugby Football Club to announce that Ian H Beggs has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to rugby.

“As a member of Carrickfergus RFC for nearly 60 years, his services to our club and to the IRFU Ulster Branch have been outstanding.

“It is particularly apt that Ian receives this recognition in our anniversary year.

“On behalf of everyone at Carrickfergus RFC and the wider rugby community, I would like to congratulate Ian on a very well deserved honour.”

Continuing the sporting theme, this year’s list sees a knighthood for jockey Tony McCoy.