NI Hospice awarded freedom of borough

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has bestowed the freedom of the borough upon the Northern Ireland Hospice.

By Philip Bradfield
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 6:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 9:01 pm

The hospice has been recognised at a special ceremony that highlighted their dedication to delivering end of life palliative care, specialist rehabilitation and respite care.

The civic honour – which, historically, includes the right to drive sheep unimpeded in the town – is a symbolic gesture to pay homage to those who have contributed significantly to the borough.

And, in keeping with the selfless ethos of the Northern Ireland Hospice, the staff and volunteers chose to bring the sheep to visit the patients for whom they care.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council bestow the freedom of the borough upon the Northern Ireland Hospice. The civic honour, which, historically, includes the right to drive sheep unimpeded in the town - pays homage to those who have contributed significantly to the borough. Jack McCrystal (13) from Draperstown, Theo Walker (4) from Belfast and James McKinney (5) from Belfast joined Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Billy Webb, NI Hospice Chief Executive, Heather Weir and Nurse Louise Devlin in celebrating the honour. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Billy Webb, said: “The Northern Ireland Hospice provides tremendous support for patients and families during some of the most challenging times of their lives.

“The holistic approach to care wraps around the whole of the family and anyone who is affected. It is that support that makes the work of the Hospice unique.”

To mark the occasion, staff of the hospice, which cares for babies, children and adults, were invited to a ceremony at the Theatre at The Mill in Newtownabbey on Tuesday evening.

The NI Hospice staff follow in the footsteps of sporting stars six-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea, jockey Sir AP McCoy OBE and rugby legend Dr Willie John McBride CBE on the Council’s Roll of Honourable Freemen.

Heather Weir, Northern Ireland Hospice Chief Executive, said they felt “tremendously honoured”. She added: “It is a celebration of all the amazing work that happens at Hospice every day by the incredible team involved in delivering our vital specialist palliative care services.”