Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council recently announced plans to award Jonathan Rea, the Freedom of the Borough of Antrim and Newtownabbey for his services to sport.
The Ballyclare-born World Superbike triple champion will be the first person to be awarded Freedom of the Borough since the two legacy councils merged.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Paul Hamill said: “Freedom of the Borough is the most prestigious award that council can bestow on its citizens and an appropriate award for a young man who is one of the leading lights of motorsport in the world.
“Jonathan has put Northern Ireland, his borough and hometown of Ballyclare firmly on the world stage and I wish him all the best for the rest of his season, which I am sure will be another one of success.”
The motion to bestow the Freedom of the Borough was proposed by Ballyclare Ulster Unionist representative, Cllr David Arthurs and seconded by DUP representative, Cllr Tim Girvan.
Speaking after the council session, Cllr Arthurs said: “I wanted to propose Freedom of the Borough for Jonathan Rea to mark his achievements of putting Northern Ireland, Antrim and Newtownabbey and his home town of Ballyclare on the world stage and for his services to sport.”
“Jonathan is at the very top of his sport and as members of this council and as residents of this borough we should be very, very proud of his achievements to date.
“Achievements that were recognised by Her Majesty The Queen in her 2017 Birthday Honours List by Awarding Jonathan an MBE for Services to motorcycle racing.
“He was also runner up in the National BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2017 and he won the Northern Ireland Sports Person of the Year 2017.”
“We have all seen how well Jonathan is thought across Northern Ireland, the borough and in his hometown of Ballyclare by the two events we held in Sixmile Leisure Centre after his second and third World Championship Wins. Conferring this honour is the right thing to do for such a wonderful ambassador for our borough.”
Supporting his party colleague, South Antrim MLA Steve Aiken said: “I want to congratulate and commend Cllr Arthurs for proposing this for Jonathan Rea. We all, as public representatives, value community role models and ambassadors like Jonathan Rea for reminding us and setting an example of what is great about Northern Ireland and our people.”
The ceremony will take place later in the year and will be announced via the Council’s Facebook and Twitter pages @ANBorough.