Three local ladies have been rewarded in the New Year’s Honours List - a list which, for the first time, featured more men than women.
Among those honoured is Kate Elliott, founder of Good Morning Ballycastle.
The service was created in 2007 with the help of the town’s Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian churches, and essentially involves volunteers phoning around elderly residents in the region to offer them some conversation and remind them about appointments.
The 61-year-old said their 27 volunteers currently have more than 100 “on their books”, ranging from Bushmills to Cushendall and across the Glens.
Her award is a BEM for “services to the community in Ballycastle”. At first, when her husband rang her about a mysterious envelope arriving from Westminster, she thought it was some kind of prank.
“I said: ‘open it up and see who’s writing to me from the Cabinet Office’. I thought it was a joke, you know?
“I’m absolutely over the moon. Delighted. But not only delighted for me, but for Good Morning Ballycastle.”
Another of the many recipients being recognised for serving their community was Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) of Ulster board member Barbara Blair.
She has been honoured with a British Empire Medal (BEM) for “services to young people in Northern Ireland”, and at 30 is the youngest recipient.
Barbara joined her local YFC in Garvagh at 13, and later served on the committee of the Co Londonderry body.
Now living in Ballymoney, she eventually took a seat on the executive of the YFC’s Ulster board and that of the Rural Youth Europe group representing the UK and Ireland.
“I was shocked when I got the letter and I wasn’t sure it was real,” she said. “I suppose it’s nice for the organisation as a whole to get this recognition, and to have someone put forward for it, but lots of people give up their time.
“It is very much a rural youth organisation. There are so many different aspects within Young Farmers, there are so many things you can do, and I really enjoyed the drama side of things and got very involved in that and the competitions.”
Another local lady, Cathy Glass, who is Trauma and Orthopaedics manager at Altnagelvin Hospital was also honoured for services to Healthcare.
She received the MBE and was praised by Chairman of the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) Gerard Guckian said: “This honour is truly deserved by Cathy who has always dedicated herself to providing an excellent service to our patients and the local community. I extend congratulations to Cathy on this outstanding achievement which is well deserved.
“Cathy is the lynchpin behind our award-winning Trauma and Orthopaedic service and she always puts the patients first, which is why she is so popular with patients, relatives and colleagues that come into contact with her across the Western Trust.
“We are very proud of her and are delighted that she has been recognised with this award.”
Cathy, who is from Ballymoney, started working as a nurse in the Belfast City Hospital. She has worked at Altnagelvin Hospital and the Western Trust for over 18 years. She was a Ward Sister and more recently the Nursing and Services manager for the Trauma and Orthopaedic Service.
Speaking following the announcement Cathy said: “I am very surprised and delighted to receive this honour. It is rather extraordinary to be given such an honour for doing a job that I enjoy so much. I have worked in the Trauma and Orthopaedic service at Altnagelvin Hospital and the Western Trust for over 18 years. In that time I have been very fortunate to have had the most wonderful colleagues in nursing, medical, managerial and support services.
“As a ward sister and as a unit manager I have seen services for patients improve continually because of the hard work, motivation, skills and expertise of these work colleagues.
“Just in this past year our staff have received awards for developing excellent standards of care for patients with dementia and had national recognition of very low mortality rates for patients following hip fracture, all this is achieved through their expertise and care.
“It is an honour to lead a team who are so passionate about their roles and about ensuring patients experiences are of the highest quality despite often working in challenging situations. I have a most supportive and encouraging family and network of friends and colleagues. My family have always encouraged and supported me to go the extra mile in my working life. I have received so many positive messages of support and congratulations and I cannot thank people enough for their kind words.”