Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Co Antrim, Joan Christie, has spoken of her “delight” at being awarded the Freedom of the City of Lisburn and Castlereagh.
Mrs Christie accepted the honour - the highest the local authority can bestow - at a special ceremony at Lagan Valley Island, Lisburn today (Saturday) in recognition of her dedication, service and support to the area.
As the Lord Lieutenant for Co Antrim since 2008, Mrs Christie has attended numerous council ceremonies and events in the area throughout the years.
A recipient of the OBE, Mrs Christie was awarded the Commander of the Victorian Order (CVO) - a private honour bestowed by the Queen - in the 2018 New Year’s Honours.
She said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive the honour of the Freedom of the City. I have had a long association with the council and the area and this is indeed a very special day for me. I look forward to my new role as a Freeman of the City of Lisburn and Castlereagh.”
Mayor, Councillor Uel Mackin - who presided over the ceremony - said: “Today the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE has been added to our Roll of Honour as our newest Freeman of the City and the first Freeman of the new Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.”
He said the council holds Mrs Christie “in the highest esteem for her diligence in a very demanding public service role”.
“Of course she brings much more with her when she attends any of our civic occasions because she is simply one of the warmest and most genuine people you could meet,” he added.
“She is revered and respected wherever she goes and is known the length and breadth of the country as a real people person who is interested in everyone.
“I was honoured to preside over today’s proceedings and we were delighted to welcome members of Mrs Christie’s family today, along with representatives of the Armed Forces, our MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, charity and voluntary representatives, the cadets, friends and family and people from some of the organisations the Lord Lieutenant has worked with.”
The proposal for the resolution of the Freedom of the City was made by Alderman William Leathem, a former Mayor, who has known the Lord Lieutenant for many years.
He said: “It was my singular honour to bring forward the proposal last year to confer this honour on Mrs Joan Christie and I was proud to propose it today as part of the official council ceremony.
“Not only is she one of the most hardworking ladies I know, she has made the role of Lord Lieutenant all her own and she has brought faithful and unwavering service to this council.
“Everyone speaks of her with the sincerest warmth and affection. Mrs Christie has attended numerous events in the council, be it Remembrance Sunday, our World War One commemorative events, and last year she attended our Homecoming Parade with HRH Prince Edward, and many others, as well as presiding over our Citizenship ceremonies.
“She always has time to stop and speak to everyone and she makes everybody she talks to feel special. We are honoured to welcome her as our newest Freeman.”
Alderman Paul Porter seconded the conferment proposal at today’s ceremony and said: “As a former Mayor, I too have the fondest of memories of the many times the Lord Lieutenant supported the council.
“Now it is our turn and the award of the Freedom of the City is the greatest honour we can bestow. Mrs Christie is due to retire from her position as Lord Lieutenant later this year and we are delighted that we will continue to see her as our newest Freeman.
“She possesses an innate warmth and friendliness and has time for everybody no matter who they are. Mrs Christie has carried out her role as the Queen’s Representative with great dignity at all times. Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has the deepest regard for this gracious lady.”
Councillor Nathan Anderson, chairs the Corporate Services Committee, in which the Freedom of the City Event progressed. He said: “I am delighted for Mrs Christie and for the council as well. I think we have gained a unique and special person in Mrs Christie as our newest Freeman today.
“We would have missed the Lord Lieutenant terribly once she retired, because we see her not only in that respected Office, but as our long-standing friend. It is heart-warming that Mrs Christie will continue to be a part of this council for the future.”
Mrs Christie was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in April 2018 and of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council a month later.