Joan honoured, shocked yet humbled by OBE

Cllr Joan Baird.
Cllr Joan Baird.

Moyle District Councillor, Joan Baird has been named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Elected UUP councillor for Moyle in 2011 and Causeway Coast and Glens Council 2014 for Glens constituency, Joan was awarded the OBE for her services to Housing and the Community in Northern Ireland.

A Ballycastle pupil, Joan, who currently lives on the family farm at Whitepark Bay near Ballintoy said she is ‘honoured, shocked yet humbled’ to have been given the honour.

However when she first received the letter telling her of the OBE, she first thought it was from the ‘tax man’, she joked: “I was very surprised when I received the letter advising me of my OBE, at first I thought it was from HMRC!”

Joan has been a member of the Board of Clanmil Housing Association Ltd since 2002 – during that time she has held various positions of authority including Vice Chair (2004-09) and Chair of the Board(2009-2014).

She explained: “During that time Clanmil Housing Association has experienced significant change and has constructed over 1,200 new dwellings across NI with the bulk in Belfast. The Association now has a turnover of £18m annually with assets in excess of £100m and a housing stock of 3,500 dwellings.”

During Joan’s time as Chair of the Board the Association attracted significant private and public investment for housing in NI including the first funding from the European Investment Bank for housing in the Province. She continued: “Expansion of Clanmil’s business meant, through the multiplier effect, that many new businesses were established and jobs created in NI. Housing projects benefit suppliers of goods and services associated with building new homes and renovations, from actual bricks and mortar, plumbing, kitchen furniture, floor covering, architectural services, curtains, etc. etc.

“Clanmil’s ethos promotes caring for its Tenants whilst ensuring good governance, professional management and probity at all levels.”

On obtaining the award Joan praised all her colleagues: “I am really delighted and would pay tribute to my colleagues on the Board of Clanmil Housing Association Ltd, all current and past Board Members have been dedicated diligent and professional in their governance roles and have ensured that Clanmil, in a period of significant change, has retained its caring culture whilst forging ahead with a dynamic business growth strategy.

“Our Chief Executive, Directors and staff have worked hard and digiently to deliver our futuristic plans and in so doing have achieved continued substantial ratings in all DSD Audits, no mean feat in times of fast change and economic instability”.

Married to John Hanna from Banbridge, who she hopes to take the the ‘Palace’ she added: “Apart from Council my main interest is in the environment and in work of RSPB. Mainly inspired by my Mother now in her 97th year, a classic literature and poetry buff.”

Proud moments in Joan’s time of Chair:

1. Joan presented (at London Hilton) with top National Award in the UK for outstanding Achievement for Clanmil’s Shared Housing Scheme at Lisburn.

2. Presented with award for first independent living scheme for people with dementia – scheme in Belfast and delivered in partnership with Health Trust.

3. Development of the Bass Brewery Scheme – Caffery Hill with 166 units on a mixed tenure scheme in Belfast.

4. Securing options from NAMA on the derelict Hilden Mill site near Lisburn.

5. Securing substantial investment from lending institutions and implementation of advance financial planning models up to 2043.

More online!

Over the years, Joan has worked in NI Housing Executive where her highest posting was Housing and Planning Manager for the West Region based in Co Londonderry, latterly in Coleraine. She retired from Housing Executive in 2005.