The manager of the War Years Remembered museum in Ballyclare, David McCallion, has received a prestigious award from the Prime Minister.
The museum, which houses thousands of items relating to both military history and social history from the First and Second World War’s is operated by a team of dedicated volunteers.
David began building a collection of war medals and memorabilia from a young age and has worked for over 20 years in engaging community groups in learning about their wartime past.
After the popularity of an exhibition in Belfast City Hall in January 2014 using his collection, David established ‘War Years Remembered’ as a mobile museum, which subsequently gained a permanent base in 2016.
The museum contains artefacts such as military uniforms, equipment and vehicles, including one used in the D-Day landings, the only such item of its kind on display on the island of Ireland.
Commenting on his Points of Light award, David said: “I am both humbled and honoured to have been awarded the Points of Light award for founding and curating War Years Remembered.
“I personally would like to accept this award on behalf of all the volunteers and people behind the scenes who have supported me in making War Years Remembered what it is today.
“Over the years I have watched it grow and evolve from what started as a little acorn to a museum which brings people from all ages and backgrounds together with one common goal to remember all those touched by War and preserve our veterans’ stories.
“My hope is that it continues to grow and evolve encouraging others to get involved and to create a lasting legacy for all our future generations and inspiring all those within our communities to help by volunteering and give something back, the only reward is knowing you’re doing something that is right and needed.”
In a personal letter to David, Mrs May said: “By sharing your unique personal collection of artefacts from both World Wars, you are allowing thousands of people in Northern Ireland to engage with their military heritage.
“You should feel very proud of the difference your museum is making to ensure we fully remember the extraordinary contributions members of the Armed Forces have given in the service of our country.”
Paul Girvan, MP for South Antrim, added: “I have known David for many years and he is passionate in his endeavours to educate, inform and exhibit his wonderful collection of military artefacts from throughout the various conflicts.
“He gives of his time tirelessly to educate both young and old, about the great sacrifices made by our armed forces in defence of our freedom and liberty. He is to be commended for his excellent operational skills in putting on various displays across the Province. Happy to support and endorse everything he does.”
The War Years Remembered museum was officially opened by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Co Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie, OBE, in September 2016.