One of two days in the calendar when the nation says thanks

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Some 85 people based in Northern Ireland are among 1,163 people across the UK who have been recognised by the Queen for their achievements and contribution to public life.

Recipients and their friends, families and colleagues are today celebrating the honour bestowed on them.

In this Province, there is particular pleasure to be had from the recognition for the man who tops the list locally - Sir Van Morrison.

Van the Man is one of the greatest rock and roll stars in the history of popular music. It is fitting that such a gifted artist has been given a knighthood on the eve of his 70th birthday, after a lifetime of work that has given pleasure to tens of millions of people around the world.

His sell-out concerts in the street he made famous, Cyprus Avenue, on the date of that coming birthday in August, will have extra resonance in light of this recognition.

And the pleasure at the recognition that Sir Van has been given is not restricted to Northern Ireland - the Daily Telegraph, like this newspaper, has chosen him among all the UK recipients to put on its front page today.

Dozens of less well known people in Northern Ireland are also recognised, ranging from the chief constable of the PSNI, George Hamilton (Queen’s Police Medal), to the DUP former mayor of Ballymoney, Bill Kennedy (MBE), to people such as Yuk Shan Lui (BEM for services to cultural history).

The Queen’s Birthday Honours, like the New Year’s Honours, is one of the six monthly points in the calendar in which the head of state, on behalf of society, says thank you.

This year, the list of deserving recipients includes Kevin Spacey, an American who has made London his home for a decade, while committing himself to the role of artistic director of the Old Vic theatre.

As an actor who commands millions of dollars for film roles, the UK has been lucky to be a beneficiary of his cultural work here. Graciously, he calls himself an “adopted son”.