Final countdown to Neeson ceremony

I'm coming right at you Ballymena - Liam Neeson with sister Elizabeth.
I'm coming right at you Ballymena - Liam Neeson with sister Elizabeth.

Ballymena is making the final preparations to honour local star, Liam Neeson

On Monday (28th January) the globally acclaimed actor will be awarded the Honorary Freedom of the Borough, the highest accolade which can be bestowed by Ballymena Borough Council and one which has, until now, been accorded to just three people.

Every detail of the day in The Braid Arts Centre & Town Hall is being meticulously planned, from Liam’s limo arrival with his proud mum, Katherine, to the official Freedom ceremony in the Council Chamber.

At that ceremony the Mayor, Alderman P J McAvoy, will formally propose the honour which will be seconded by Councillor Tommy Nicholl before it is given the approval of the Members of the Council. Mr Neeson will then be invited to sign the Book of Burgesses and the civic party will join some two hundred special guests already gathered to celebrate the big day.

Mayor McAvoy says: “This is a significant civic occasion but we have been at pains to keep the formalities to a minimum, in keeping with Liam’s relaxed style and recognising that this is, above all, a gathering of friends.

“It will also be a real Ballymena-style celebration, with some of our fantastic local talent providing the music; Ballymena students providing their own cinematic tribute to Liam’s life and work and local produce providing guests with a literal ‘taste of the region’.”

Liam will find himself very much at home when he steps onto the stage to speak to his Ballymena audience, for he started his acting career by treading those very boards as a young member of the Slemish Players!

Mayor McAvoy added: “In years gone by Freemen of the Borough earned tax benefits and could drive their sheep unimpeded through the town. I’m afraid Liam won’t reap those rewards on Monday but he will certainly gain an insight into the esteem in which he is held in Ballymena. We look forward to honouring an outstanding individual who has proved to be both an exceptional talent and a superb global ambassador for Ballymena.”