Ballymoney Borough Council and the work of its councillors and staff over the period 1973 - 2015 was marked on 23rd March at a Civic Service conducted by Mayor’s Chaplain, Rev. Frances Bach, in Ballymoney Town Hall.
The appropriately named hymn “Lord For The Years” opened the service as councillors, former councillors, staff and former staff, representatives of organisations granted the Honorary Freedom of the borough and representatives from business and community joined to celebrate 42 years.
A programme of community singing and special items followed, with participation from civic and public representatives, school choirs, leading figures from community and voluntary sector and an inspiring address by the Mayor’s Chaplain, addressing the 70 schoolchildren present, likening the move to the new council to the move from the “big school” and how young children feel about this.
Mayor Bill Kennedy and Deputy Mayor Harry Connolly read passages from the bible, while Chief Executive John Dempsey read a prayer of thanksgiving for the past, with a prayer for the new council was read by Mrs Pat Crossley who served on a number of council community partnerships.
A prayer for the people of Ballymoney was read by Linda McKendry from the town’s voluntary group Can Can.
There was delightful signing from St Patrick’s Primary School, Loughguile who had chosen The Green Glens of Antrim and The Sally Garden, while Bushvalley Primary School sang Beauty and The Beast and Little Old Town.
Rhinnan McAfee, a pupil of Leaney Primary School and Ellie McConville a pupil of St Brigid’s Primary School, Ballymoney highlighted some of the projects and achievements of the 42 years, from parks, cycle routes, awards, war memorial, friendships links, recreational developments, campaigning for road and rail links, opposing lignite and signature events like the olympic torch visit to Dervock and the Giro Cycle event to Ballymoney.
Symbols of the old and new were brought to the front, with retiring councillor Roma McAfee bringing forward the Council Civic Mace and new Councillor, Michelle Knight-McQuillan leaving alongside an illustrated map of the new Causeway Coast and Glens area which covers the existing councils of Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady & Moyle. In a symbolic gesture the two ladies then shock hands.
Mayor Alderman Kennedy thanked everyone for joining with Council in its special civic service to recognise 42 years of service, commenting: “I pay tribute to all of them and thank them sincerely. To have their participation in our civic service marking 42 years had made it all the more special.”
He continued: “We have a strong relationship with business, community & voluntary sector, with groups in the arts, sports and other interests and talented young people in schools, I am very proud of our people they are our most valuable resource. I pay tribute to all of them.”
The Mayor then presented an Easter egg to all children while the adults stayed to chat over a cup of tea.