Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Co Antrim, Joan Christie has told of her pride after being awarded the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Mid and East Antrim.
The prestigious award was officially bestowed on Mrs Christie at a special ceremony at The Braid in Ballymena, on Saturday.
The honour pays tribute to individuals or organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to civic life.
Elected members previously proposed and agreed the award in recognition of Mrs Christie’s outstanding public service.
Mrs Christie said she was “truly humbled” to have been awarded the Honorary Freedom of the Borough, adding: “This remarkable area and its people are extremely close to my heart.
“It has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life to serve the citizens of County Antrim as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant.
“I thank the people of Mid and East Antrim for this award, which I accept on behalf of all the inspirational individuals, groups and organisations I feel fortunate to have worked alongside over the past decade.”
Around 250 guests were present for the official conferment ceremony, including community and charity representatives, Armed Forces personnel, politicians and Mrs Christie’s family and close friends.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, said the occasion was befitting of the warmth for and esteem in which Mrs Christie is held in Mid and East Antrim.
He added: “The Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour and accolade a council can award and Mrs Christie is an extremely worthy recipient of such prestigious recognition.
“Mrs Christie is unwavering in her support for both our citizens and this Council, and radiates warmth and kindness at every one of her many engagements.
“Mrs Christie demonstrates a tireless work rate and level of dedication that should act as an example to all of us in public service.”
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council agreed to bestow the Honorary Freedom of the Borough on Mrs Christie last year.
It followed a motion proposed by Councillor Billy Ashe and seconded by Councillor Audrey Wales MBE.
Mrs Christie becomes the second recipient of the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Mid and East Antrim, after B (The North Irish Horse) Squadron, Scottish North Irish Yeomanry were conferred the honour in 2015. Mrs Christie’s late husband, Col Dan Christie, served with the North Irish Horse.
Previous Freedom of the Boroughs granted in the legacy council areas of Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus prior to 2015 included those presented to actor Liam Neeson, Rev Ian Paisley, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, the Royal National Lifeboat Association and rugby legend Syd Millar.