A handshake to remember

Mark Hetherington of the 16th Newtownabbey BB who met the Queen during her visit to the Northern Ireland. INNT 26-620con
Mark Hetherington of the 16th Newtownabbey BB who met the Queen during her visit to the Northern Ireland. INNT 26-620con

A NEWTOWNABBEY teenager made his own mark in history last week as he shook the hand of the Queen and was offered birthday wishes by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Mark Hetherington of 16th Newtownabbey Boys’ Brigade Company at Belfast City Mission, Rathcoole met Her Majesty the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee visit to the province last week.

Mark was selected to represent the Boys’ Brigade in Northern Ireland along with his Company Officer Jim Holmes in Belfast’s Titanic building, which the Queen officially opened during her visit.

On his arrival in Belfast on Wednesday, June 27, Mark was taken to the VIP suite and briefed about meeting the Queen. And after a nervous wait he eventually got to shake the hand of the Queen and also that of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Company officer, Jim Holmes said: “The Queen asked him about the Boys’ Brigade and his involvement in his Company and the Duke asked Mark about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Badge he was wearing on his BB Uniform. And before leaving the Duke of Edinburgh wished Mark a happy 16th Birthday. It really was a day to remember for Mark on his birthday.”

Mark has also met the Queen’s daughter-in-law in the past. Last September he was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service at a ceremoney at the RUC George Cross Memorial Garden at Knock Road, Belfast, where special royal visitor Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, presented the award to Mark. He was given the award for his volunteer work, which included giving guided tours and history talks to various groups visiting the gardens.

Mark continues his work at the gardens, and is also involved in its general gardening upkeep.