Tributes paid to prominent local environmentalist

Dr Sally Liya.
Dr Sally Liya.

Tributes have been paid to local environmentalist Dr Sally Liya, who was found dead at her home in Merville Garden Village on Sunday night, February 15.

Dr Liya, who was born Susan Villiers-Stuart and grew up in Greenisland, studied Agriculture at Somerville College, Oxford. She later completed a Masters in Plant Pathology and obtained her PhD in Soil Microbiology at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

Having also attained a Diploma in Community Development from the Ulster People’s College, she was a keen environmentalist and community worker and played an important role in helping the Sustrans charity and Newtownabbey Borough Council with the Newtownabbey Way pedestrian and cycle path project.

Dr Liya was Secretary of the Baha’i Church in Newtownabbey and a member of Merville Residents’ Association. She was also a prominent member of several other organisations including the African Association of Ireland, International Tree Foundation, Environmental Education Forum Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Cycling Initiative.

Over the past few years she also organised the ‘Best Kept Garden’ competition in Merville Garden Village.

“She was a kind person and was well liked by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. She will be missed,” said Merville man James Lynn.

During Monday night’s council Development Committee meeting, tributes were paid to Dr Liya by Cllr Billy Webb, Alderman Thomas Hogg and Cllr Ken Robinson for her environmental and community work in Merville and across Newtownabbey.

“She was a really eccentric but warm-hearted lady who did a lot to preserve the unique character of Merville,” the Mayor commented.

Committee members agreed that the council should send a letter of condolence to the local Baha’i community.