Borough’s salute to Merchant Navy

Deputy Mayor Victor Robinson with Tom Carter, John Coulter and Norman Potts at Mossley Mill. INNT 15-406-RM

Deputy Mayor Victor Robinson with Tom Carter, John Coulter and Norman Potts at Mossley Mill. INNT 15-406-RM

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NEWTOWNABBEY Council has acknowledged the sterling service of the Merchant Navy by granting it the Freedom of the Borough.

The honour is awarded to people and organisations who have delivered eminent services to the council and the people of the borough.

In February, councillors agreed a resolution to award the Freedom of the Borough to the Merchant Navy in acknowledgement of its ongoing service to the people of Newtownabbey and for the contribution it made during both World Wars.

At the recent Freedom of the Borough ceremony at Mossley Mill, the Rev Hall-Thompson, Chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers in Belfast, accepted the Freedom certificate on behalf of the Merchant Navy.

Guests at the event included past and present members of the Merchant Navy, the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim Mrs Joan Christie OBE, Freemen of the Borough and councillors.

The Mayor, Alderman Billy Webb said: “I am very pleased that the council has decided to confer the Freedom of the Borough on the Merchant Navy.

“The important role of the Merchant Navy has impacted on all our lives.

“The council recognises the immense sacrifices that Merchant Navy personnel continue to make and have heroically made in both World Wars.

“The Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour the council can confer. The brave and dedicated personnel of the Merchant Navy ensured that supplies reached our shores and our ships throughout the First and Second World Wars.

“During the Second World War alone over 30,000 Merchant Navy personnel lost their lives making sure that the Allied forces and their countries had sufficient supplies to secure victory.”

The council’s former Chief Executive, Norman Dunn MBE, the late Tommy McTeague, Dr Willie John McBride MBE, the late councillor George Herron, James Rooney MBE and councillor Fraser Agnew are the most recent individual recipients of the Freedom of the Borough.

Other organisations to have received the honour in the past include the Northern Ireland branch of the Burma Star Association, the Fire Brigade, the RUC and RUC Reserve, the Ulster Defence Regiment, the Royal British Legion, the Royal Irish Rangers, the Royal Air Force and 321 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron, and the Royal Logistic Corps.

The Freedom Declaration will soon be on display in the Mission to Seafarers, The Flying Angel Centre, Prince’s Dock Street, Belfast, for all to see and appreciate.

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