Mayor’s chaplain reveals family’s unique Royal honour during special meeting

A special meeting has been held by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to pay tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 7:58 am

A two-minute silence, led by Mayor Councillor Jim Montgomery, was observed by members as a mark of respect at the start of the meeting.

Each of the political parties paid tributes to Prince Philip, who passed away at Windsor Castle on Friday morning.

Speaking at the start of meeting was the Mayor’s chaplain Rev Stephen McBride, of All Saints in Antrim, who told members that he and his father had been the first father and son to be awarded the Duke of Edinburgh gold award.

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In 2016, with his son, Alex, they were the second grandfather, father and son trio to receive the award.

He proceeded to read Psalm 107 in memory of the Duke’s Naval connection.

Leading elected members’ tributes, the Mayor spoke of the “lasting positive impact” of the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was committed to improving the lives of others, taking on many charitable support and ambassadorial roles,” he stated.

These included he said the WWF, Fields of Trust and Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

The Duke of Edinburgh Awards, he noted, has “helped millions with life development skills” and “leaves a legacy that benefits many”.

“Two key things among the many that stand out was how he had put his focus on helping young people develop life skills which I believe is the mark of a sincere and endearing person.”

Deputy Mayor Councillor Noreen McClelland spoke of the “great void” left by the Duke of Edinburgh in the lives of the Royal Family by someone who was “such a strong and influential part of their family”.

“To lose such a dedicated father and trustworthy and loving companion is truly heartbreaking.”

She acknowledged the sorrow felt by families across the borough following the death of Prince Philip adding: “My thoughts are with you”.

DUP Group Leader Glengormley councillor Alderman Phillip Brett spoke of the “true statesmanship” of the Duke of Edinburgh whom he said has “dedicated his life to others and to the betterment of our country”.

He said that he “forged new Anglo-Irish relations”, a legacy which would “ensure peace and prosperity for these islands that everyone cherishes”.

He extended his party’s sympathy  and to the Royal Family and Her Majesty whom he said has “lost her strength and stay”.

Ulster Unionist group leader Glengormley councillor Alderman Mark Cosgrove spoke of the many young lives that have been “transformed” through the “character building” Duke of Edinburgh Scheme.

“It is very difficult to think of someone who is more respected for everything he has given this country. All of us owe him a massive debt of gratitude. He leaves a legacy here in British public life that will be very difficult to follow.”

Alliance group leader Councillor Billy Webb said: “The one thing that strikes me is his devotion to his marriage and to his family. He was a loyal husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.

“In his role. he gave 5,496 speeches, attended 22,219 engagements and was patron of 785 organisations. He once said he was the world’s most experienced unveiler of plaques. His service was outstanding.

“I guarantee not one of those young people who took part in trouble on our streets took part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“On behalf of my group, I extend our sincere sympathies at this sad time.”

Sinn Fein group leader Glengormley Cllr Michael Goodman extended his condolences on behalf of his party to the Duke of Edinburgh’s family.

He said that a sense of loss felt within the community following the death of Prince Philip by those who “cherish and value the Royal Family” has already been acknowledged by the Deputy First Minister.

He spoke of the “journey towards peace and reconciliation”, in particular a meeting between Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth in Belfast which “marked a very important part of our journey towards reconciliation”.

Commenting on the recent 23rd anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, Cllr Goodman said: “Progress has been made over this time. While we have an imperfect peace, the Agreement has provided an alternative to conflict.”

SDLP Group Leader Roisin Lynch said: “On behalf of the SDLP group, may I express my sincere condolences to Queen Elizabeth and the family.

“I send condolences to people in the community across Antrim and Newtownabbey who feel a special connection with Prince Philip and the Royal Family.

“His was a life of public service to a family that he clearly cherished and held him in the highest regard. At this sorrowful time, our thoughts are with them. May be rest in peace.”

by Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter