MBE honour for former Downshire principal

Jackie Stewart MBE.
Jackie Stewart MBE.

The former principal of Downshire School in Carrick is “delighted and very humbled” to be awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Jackie Stewart, who lives in Islandmagee, was nominated for the award by the school’s board of governors.

“I knew nothing about it until I got the letter from the Cabinet Office.

“It was a secret that was very hard to keep, especially from my family.”

However, Mrs. Stewart has attributed her achievements at Downshire School to a team effort.

”To get an award on a personal level is lovely but there are a lot of people who have supported me over the years.”

Jackie was principal of Downshire for 12 years where she spend her entire 35-year career.

Previously, Mrs. Stewart was a history and geography teacher and helped with hockey and badminton.

She admits that she misses the “buzz” of the school, her former colleagues and pupils.

“Most of all, I miss the youngsters. I always really enjoyed their company.

“I really enjoyed teaching all those years. When I became a principal, I really enjoyed it too.

“I have been very fortunate with terrific staff, parents and pupils. It was my privilege to work in a great school with a very supportive local community.”

Mrs. Stewart went on to say that she decided that when the school was amalgamated with Carrickfergus College, it was time for someone new to take over the reins.

“I felt it was important to step aside to give someone else that opportunity.”

She said that she has been “extremely touched” by messages of congratulations in response to her MBE for services to education.

In particular, she wished to thank the board of governors and PTA for their “wonderful support”.

“I genuinely appreciate all they have done.”

Jackie said that she intends to travel to Buckingham Palace to collect her MBE accompanied by husband Mike, dad, George Brown, a former principal of Carnmoney Primary, and stepmum, Paddy.