BBC consumer rights champion recognised

BBC NI presenter Linda McAuley
BBC NI presenter Linda McAuley

Consumer champion Linda McAuley and sports pundit Liam Beckett are among those from Northern Ireland named on the New Year Honours list.

A total of 103 Northern Ireland citizens – including major business figures, emergency service personnel, charity volunteers and media personalities – were recognised, with the top honour of a knighthood going to Wrightbus chairman William Wright.

Linda McAuley, from Bangor in Co Down, has been awarded an MBE.

She began her broadcasting career with BBC NI in 1978, and for the last 22 years she has tackled a wide range of consumer issues through her popular On Your Behalf radio programme.

“I am overwhelmed to be given this. It has been an incredible year and this is just the icing on the cake,” she said.

“It’s not only a tremendous honour for me personally, it’s an acknowledgment of the trust that On Your Behalf has built up with the public over 22 years, and the working relationship the programme has with organisations such as Trading Standards, the Consumer Council and the Financial Ombudsman.

“Of course it’s not just me, and I am so grateful to my producers and all the people I’ve worked with over the years, and to the listeners who’ve been a huge part of my radio career which has spanned over 40 years. To be mentioned in the New Year Honour list is the ultimate accolade.”

BBC NI director Peter Johnston said: “Linda and the On Your Behalf team have made a difference to so many lives here over the years and it is fitting that she gets this recognition for her tireless contribution to society in Northern Ireland.”

Sports pundit and newspaper columnist Liam Beckett has been awarded an MBE for his services to the voluntary sector and to sport. His annual ‘black Santa’ sit-out collection in Ballymoney has raised thousands of pounds in much-needed funds for a number of good causes in the area, and this Christmas was the 13th year of the charity initiative.

The pundit continues to be a popular BBC choice for both football and motorcycle racing.

Queen’s University pro-vice chancellor and professor of politics Richard English received a CBE, while Ellvena Graham, chair of the Northern Ireland Economic Advisory Group, was awarded an OBE.

Among the MBE recipients are Royal British Legion chairman in Northern Ireland George Black, and campaigner for disabled former police officers Hazel McCready.

A handful of PSNI officers received awards – including a Queen’s Police Medal for Chief Superintendent Alywin Barton – while police support staff employee Jeanette McMurray has been awarded a BEM.

The work of Cancer Focus NI specialist nurse Elizabeth Atkinson has been recognised with a MBE.