Queen honours ten locals with birthday awards

Paula Hilman MBE.
Paula Hilman MBE.

Newtownabbey locals celebrated an unprecedented 10 awards in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list.

Superintendent Paula Hilman, who hails from the borough and was area commander for police in Newtownabbey was awarded the MBE for her services to policing and the community.

She said finding out about the honour was emotional.

“Ever since I was at school I wanted to be in the police and I have been very proud to be a police officer and for the past 27 years,” she said.

“It was such a shock, but I was delighted and it was a great honour for my family who have been a tremendous support throughout my career.

“This award does not just reflect on me, but on my colleagues and all the agencies I have worked with over the years including those during my time in Newtownabbey.”

Marbeth Coulter, from Ballyclare, was honoured for her work with the Girls’ Brigade and awarded the MBE. Marbeth was vice-president of the GB and has been involved with Ballynure GB for 51 years and been its captain for 46 years.

She said: “I don’t think I do anything different to anyone else, but its just make me feel very humble to think someone has recognised what I do.

“And it’s not just me, there are lots of people involved with the GB who deserve recognition for their contributions as well.”

Olwen McIlroy from Jordanstown, principal of Belmont Primary School, was awarded the MBE for her services to education.

She said: “It’s a huge honour, one that I was delighted to receive, but its more a recognition of the hard work and effort put in by my school’s staff, parents and pupils - it’s a team effort and the honour is as much for them as it is for me.”

Briege Lewis, from Glengormley was also awarded the MBE, for services to community cohesion in Belfast. Briege is a neighbourhood renewal officer in the Belfast Regeneration Office for the Department for Social Development.

She said: “I was very surprised to have been nominated and I am delighted to receive the award as our my family.

“I work with a lot of very talented people who put in a lot of hard work for the community and it is an honour in itself to work with them.”

Audrey Murray, from Doagh was awarded the MBE for her services to the social economy sector.

Audrey, business manager in LEDCOM, Larne, has been involved in the setting up of around 400 social enterprises across Northern Ireland.

She said: “I was a bit shocked but delighted when the letter came to say I had been nominated,” Audrey said, adding she would be taking her husband Francis to the award ceremony.

Karen Salmon, a nurse with international mission society Cosslinks, was awarded the MBE for her services to improving the health and lives of people living in Ethiopia.

And Desney Patricia Cromey was honoured for her work with bereaved children in Northern Ireland.