War widow former MLA is awarded OBE

Former Stormont Assembly member Brenda Hale who has been awarded with a OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List
Former Stormont Assembly member Brenda Hale who has been awarded with a OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List

A war widow whose husband was killed in Afghanistan has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Former DUP Stormont Assembly member Brenda Hale from Northern Ireland was recognised for her political service over the past nine years. She entered politics after her husband’s death.

Captain Mark Hale, 42, died in a bomb blast in Helmand province in August 2009 as he helped carry a wounded soldier to safety.

The couple, from Dromara, Co Down had been married for 22 years when he was killed.

“This is something I would have given my world to share with him,” Mrs Hale said.

“On the flip side of the coin it is because of what happened to Mark in Afghanistan that set me on the road to politics and actually led me to receiving this honour.”

Mrs Hale said she was “incredibly humbled” that she had the opportunity to meet brave men and women from all walks of life and from every community in Northern Ireland through her political life.

She said she was now awaiting word from Buckingham Palace as to when she would meet the Queen to receive her award.

“That is the most exciting thing because it is something I can bring my daughters to,” Ms Hale said.

She has two daughters, Victoria, 25, and Alexandra, 17.

“They’re very proud because obviously they have been on this journey with me,” Mrs Hale added.

She is among more than 90 people from Northern Ireland recognised in the Birthday Honours.

Children’s Heartbeat Trust chief executive Sarah Quinlan was awarded an MBE, for services to children and young people with congenital heart disease.

Ms Quinlan said it was a reflection of the collective effort by all those at the trust who support children and families.

“Our organisation is dependent upon the support of the general public and especially the family support network we have developed right across Northern Ireland,” she said.

“The children and young people living with heart disease are the heroes of this issue and we will continue to support them to the best of our ability.”

Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable Stephen Martin received an OBE for his role in policing. He has served for over 32 years in the force, helping the communities in Northern Ireland.

Mr Martin said he was delighted and felt extremely privileged to be a recipient.

“I regard this OBE as recognition for the entire police service and for all of the officers and staff I have served alongside over the years and for those I have had the honour to lead, “ Mr Martin said.

“We have worked hard to serve all communities in Northern Ireland, often during challenging times, to make this a safer place for everyone.”

Mr Martin was one of six members of the force to be included in this year’s birthday honours.

David Peter Gosnell, the executive chairman of Bushmills Irish Whiskey, was awarded an OBE medal for his service to the economy. Mr Gosnell has worked in Northern Ireland for 40 years and has been with Bushmills since 2005.

Mr Gosnell said: “I always wanted to make a positive difference to people’s lives and I’m delighted to be receiving this recognition.”

He added it had been a privilege to contribute to the sector’s growth over the years.

Norman Houston, director of the Northern Ireland Executive Bureau in Washington DC, was a recipient of an OBE for promoting Northern Ireland overseas.

Among those to receive a Commander of the British Empire honour in this year’s list was the chief inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

Brendan McGuigan said he was both delighted and honoured to receive what was an unexpected award.

“This recognition is about the people I have had the opportunity to work alongside within the justice family,” he said.

Mr McGuigan added: “During the last 14 years I have had the privilege to work with a small team of dedicated professionals in CJI who have shared my desire to make a real and positive difference for everyone.”

Forensic Science NI chief executive Stanley Brown also received a CBE.