‘Fantastic achievement’ for locals awarded New Year Honours

Jennifer Cooke who was awarded the OBE for services to musical theatre and to the community in Northern Ireland.
Jennifer Cooke who was awarded the OBE for services to musical theatre and to the community in Northern Ireland.

TWO Newtownabbey people have been awarded OBEs for their work in the community in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Ballyclare woman Jennifer Cooke was awarded the OBE for services to musical theatre and the community in Northern Ireland.

Jennifer is chief executive of the Belfast-based charity Music Theatre 4 Youth which provides young people from all backgrounds with access to top-quality musical theatre, training and performance.

The company has engaged 2,000 young people in the last seven years with all profits being reinvested into the business.

Recently the organisation won the best youth-led social enterprise category at the annual UK Social Enterprise Awards.

Jordanstown man Dr Bryan Keating was also awarded the OBE for his services to the economic development of Northern Ireland.

Entrepreneur Dr Keating has been a director of and an investor in a number of Northern Ireland-based hi-tech businesses over the last 30 years.

He has chaired, or been on the board of a number of organisations including Invest NI and QUBIS, an organisation which helps commercialise research and development at Queen’s University.

Dr Keating also chairs MATRIX, a business-led science industry panel set up to advise government, industry and academia on the commercial exploitation of research and development and science and technology in the north.

He sits on the boards of Axis Three and Mail Distiller and was a vice-chairman of Invest NI while for many years previously he sat on the boards of University Challenge Fund Investment Committee, Investment Belfast, halo the NI Business Angel Network, Momentum and the NI Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Dr Keating is a visiting professor at the University of Ulster, was Northern Ireland’s IT Professional of the Year 1995, received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2006 and is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Dr Keating’s work colleagues said the OBE was “well deserved” given the time and dedication he had committed over the years to helping so many people.

Neither he or Jennifer Cooke could be contacted for comment.

Ballyclare MLA Paul Girvan congratulated both on their honours, saying: “It is great to see people who have contributed a lot to the community of the borough and of Northern Ireland recognised for their hard work.

“Often these people put in a lot of time and effort and ask for nothing in return and the New Year’s Honours go some way to helping recognise their vital contribution.

“I would congratulate both on their fantastic achievement.”