Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody, from Bangor, has had a bittersweet festive season, being made an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list – but burying his father Jack on Christmas Eve.
His band went from struggling indie outfit to global success with their hit Chasing Cars.
The melancholic anthem - both Grammy and Brit Award nominated - rocketed the Northern Irish-Scottish outfit to stardom on both sides of the Atlantic.
And it was Lightbody’s keening vocals that gave the track its long-lasting appeal.
He is made an OBE in the New Year Honours list for services to music and charity in Northern Ireland after he founded the Lightbody Foundation, a group which gives annual donations to charities across the country.
Lightbody, 43, was born in Bangor, Co Down and attended Campbell College in Belfast. It was there that he was first introduced to the work of Irish poet Seamus Heaney, an experience that inspired him to first write poetry, then songs.
In 1994 he left home for Scotland and a degree in English literature at the University of Dundee. The same year, Lightbody formed Shrug with Mark McClelland and Michael Morrison, using the name Polar Bear for a time before settling on Snow Patrol.
They found success in the wake of the by then world-weary Britpop movement, with their soaring guitar sound and earnest lyrics.
Their fourth album, 2006’s Eyes Open, and its hit single Chasing Cars, propelled them to greater fame, with the track becoming the most widely played song of the 21st century on radio.
Lightbody, recognisable by his tousled collar-length hair, is the band’s only remaining founder member.
He was also instrumental in founding the supergroup Tired Pony, which included REM guitarist Peter Buck and Editors singer Tom Smith.
Lightbody is also an essayist and commentator on all things music, having written for publications like Q magazine, the Huffington Post and the Irish Times.
He has at times attempted to write songs about political themes but stopped because he felt the topic was too awkward.
However, this has not prevented him from addressing issues like the Irish backstop and Brexit outside of his music.
He recently took aim at what he described as the “unforgivable” political deadlock at Stormont, the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Gary broke the news of his father’s death to fans on social media.
“Just before Christmas my dad, Jack Lightbody, passed away,” he wrote. “We had his funeral on Christmas Eve with family and close friends. I’m not posting about it to make anyone sad and that’s why I waited until after Christmas to say anything at all I just wanted to pay tribute to the man that taught me and gave me so much.”
He added: “The messages I got when they found out were of heartbreak but also each of my friends have been telling me stories of how my dad made them laugh”.