Nigel Carr: Former rugby international injured in IRA bomb honoured by the Queen

A former rugby international to be honoured by the Queen has said he hopes it will encourage people to nominate others for recognition.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 10:45 pm
Updated Friday, 11th June 2021, 10:53 pm

Nigel Carr, 61, is to be made an MBE for his contribution to sport and community relations in Northern Ireland.

However, while the Co Down man said he is proud to be honoured, he said he also feels a “little shy in a year when so many have given so much in the health service”.

Mr Carr has had a lifetime of involvement in sport, going back to his career as an Irish International rugby player.

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Former rugby international Nigel Carr who has been awarded an MBE for services to sport and community relations in Northern Ireland

He is also involved in the Belfast Lieutenancy with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which recognises organisations.

“I’m delighted to be honoured but also appreciate there is a huge amount of great work being done,” he said.

“I’d like if this perhaps might encourage people, if you know someone who ought to be recognised, to make an application on their behalf, I’m sure they would be delighted.”

Mr Carr’s rugby playing career ended when he was just 27 after he was injured in an IRA bomb which killed Lord Justice Sir Maurice Gibson and his wife Lady Cecily in a nearby car as they travelled across the border.

He has been travelling with team mates to Dublin for a training session ahead of the 1987 Rugby World Cup.

“It’s a strange thing, someone like me would like to be remembered as having played for the British Lions, or having won the Triple Crown, but I recognise that most people have interest in the conclusion of my career,” he said.

“I found it very difficult at the time, there were a range of physical injuries which stopped me playing but there was the psychological effect as well which continued with me over the years, but I had to put it in context that there were 3,500 people died in the Troubles here, and many thousands more seriously injured, more seriously than I was.

“In many respects, my colleagues and I who were travelling to Dublin were very fortunate to come out of it with the relatively minor injuries we have. I was very keen not to be bitter after the incident, it is something I’d rather hadn’t happen but it could have been a whole lot worse.

“I just felt I could have maybe done a little more than I had. I found it difficult going back to rugby clubs and going back to matches when all my compatriots were still playing the game. I wasn’t participating and felt a little like an outsider.

“However, the support of the rugby community and beyond was incredible, I was greatly touched and still have the many cards and well-wishes that sustained me through those initial weeks and months knowing so many were wishing me well.”

Mr Carr went on to work as a selector in the Ulster Branch, for sports-related charities as well as broadcasting. He said he also got to enjoy other sports such as football, GAA and athletics

Mr Carr stressed the honour is also for everyone who has supported him, from his parents, to teachers and team-mates.

“They have all contributed and hopefully I have contributed in some ways to the success and achievements of others as well.

“I am a great advocate of sport, particularly in a Northern Ireland context, it has got great potential to bring people together.”

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