A former Ballymoney High School student has been awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours List.
Eddy Dunlop BSc, an Aerosystems Engineer, was nominated for his “exceptional contribution to the sport of Natural Luge including Great Britain level”.
Natural luge is a winter sport in which one sleds face up and feet-first. Natural luge tracks are purpose-built, built into mountain roads and paths. There is also a parallel class which can be set up on ski slopes.
45-year-old Eddy Dunlop was hailed in the New Year Honours because “for over 22 years, he has been at the forefront of the sport in the UK and on the World Cup circuit”.
His citation included the following: “His dedication, commitment and vision has seen the sport evolve from grassroots to a position whereby the GB teams can compete on an equal basis with the best Natural Luge athletes in the world.”
It continued: “Dunlop has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership and exemplary qualities. He selflessly sets the finest possible example to motivate young men and women to test their sporting potential.
“His dedication, enthusiasm, inspriration, commitment and sense of service have established the sport of Natural Luge nationally and put British Luge at the forefront internationally.
“Without Dunlop’s personal drive, vision and determination, the sport in the UK would not exist and have established the foothold that it has. He maintains the highest standards at all times and is a superb ambassador forthe United Kingdom.”
The former Leaney Primary School pupil started the sport in 1993 and finished second in a national competition but within a year he was competing on the world stage with an impressive showing at his first of six World Championships in 1994.
Eddy told the Times: “I was one of the original members of Ballymoney Cycling Club, racing BMX and then moving on to road cycles.
“I was also in Trinity Church badminton club team in the 80’s. I still mountain bike and cycle five days a week.
“I was working in Germany and I was asked, as I love speed and motorcycles, if I wanted to try Natural Luge in Austria.
“I’d never been to Austria and I live for unique opportunities and adventure so I jumped at the chance and I got hooked from there.”
He is also applauded for developing an innovative coaching and competition regime which introduces novices to the sport in a safer way.
Eddy was said to have “personally and single-handedly crafted a specialist training programme and coaching plan that is recognised and endorsed by the Great British Luge Association”.
Having retired from international competition in 2008 due to injury, Eddy still competes at national level and remains the current UK Champion.
In a major innovation, Eddy Dunlop also coached and trained the very first British female to compete at international level, lifting the UK’s first international medal in the 2015 season.
Last year saw Dunlop’s Great Britain team move from 14th to tenth in the world team competition.
“I have also commentated at the last World Cup luge race (the first live stream for natural luge) and will be running a British ice camp in Italy next month,” he added.
Son of Irenee and the late Joseph Dunlop, Eddy told the Times of his reaction when he heard he had been awarded the MBE: “When I heard I was taken back and truly humbled, but overwhelmed that I have got a relatively unknown sport in the UK to be mentioned in the Palace.”
Eddy’s mum still lives in Ballymoney as does his brother Paul and sister Janey lives in Ballybogey.