Buckingham beckons for local recipients of New Year's Honours

2006 got off to a royal start for a number of local personalities who were named in the New Year's Honours List.

Amongst the 48 men and women from across the province named were Sean Canavan, a former resources director at the Child Support Agency, and Human Rights Commissioner and wife of Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Dr Robin Eames, Lady Ann Christine Eames, who both received OBEs.

Stewartstown father-of-four, Sean Canavan was awarded an OBE in recognition of his contribution to public service since 1966.

The avid golfer and incoming vice-captain of Killymoon Golf Club devoted 40 years to the Northern Ireland Civil Service, the majority of which time was spent in the Department for Health and Social Services, and more latterly, the Department of Social Development.

He was also District Manager in Dungannon Social Security Office, assuming responsibility for the Armagh, Cookstown, Dungannon and Magherafelt areas.

He spent his final ten years of service in the Child Support Agency, where he was Operations Director, and his last post was Resources Director.

Mr Canavan is also a well known figure in GAA circles throughout his native County and was a member of the Tyrone senior backroom team during the reign of Danny Ball.

Presently enjoying his retirement, Mr Canavan acknowledged the work carried out by all in the Child Support Agency.

"I see this award as recognition of forty years in the public service and particularly accept it on behalf of the 2,000 staff I managed in the child support agency, both here in Northern Ireland and Eastern England.

"Without a doubt they have the most difficult job of any in the civil service," Mr Canavan added.

The OBE was also bestowed upon Lady Christine Eames (62) for services to the community in Northern Ireland.

A mother of two and grandmother to six, Lady Eames, from Armagh, is in her second term of office at the NI Human Rights Commission, having been involved with a review of the human rights of people using mental health and learning disability services.


She was the Worldwide President of the Mothers' Union from 1995-2000 and is also a member of the Central Board of Christian Aid, where was involved at a global level with the constitutional change of the organisation.

A Law and Philosophy graduate, Lady Eames has worked on a number of cross community projects involving young people.

74-year-old Dr Allen McClay, who already holds a CBE, has been made Knight Bachelor for his services to business and charity.

One of the country's richest entrepreneurs, Dr Allen founded Portadown-based pharmaceutical giant Galen in 1968, which has since grown into an internationally renowned firm.

In 2004 it was renamed Warner Chilcott, the US female healthcare firm bought by Galen in 2000.

Although Dr McClay retired from the company in 2001, he acquired five separate parts of the business, including Northern Ireland's largest chemistry provider, Chemical Synthesis in Craigavon.

The Cookstown-based businessman, whose fortune is estimated at around 255 million, is also a major benefactor to Queen's University, Belfast.

He established the McClay Trust in 1997, which is a charitable body set up to support research in the University's Schools of Chemistry, Pharmacy and Medicine.

The work carried out here contributes to pharmaceutical and healthcare industries around the world.

Dr McClay also chairs the University's Belfast Board, which is responsible for launching a 150 million campaign to raise finds for university research.

Included in the MBE honours list are Mid Ulster man Francis Rocks, and Reserve Constable William McCahon, who worked as a part-time officer for over 31 years in Armagh.

The former teacher received his MBE for public service.

Former Cookstown and Magherafelt Lions Club President Francis Rocks, who is Manager of Support Services at the Mid Ulster Hospital, was awarded his MBE for services to the community in Northern Ireland.

An employee of the United Hospitals Trust for almost three decades, Mr Rocks admitted that he felt "very humbled" by the accolade.

He also paid tribute to both his colleagues in the hospital, and fellow Lions.

"I would like to thank my wife and family for all their support in all their activities. They, too, are delighted with the award."

Congratulating the recipients, Secretary of State Peter Hain MP said: "These awards recognise the efforts of people from different backgrounds who work tirelessly in their communities to build a better future for everyone.

"Amongst those receiving awards today are people who have given remarkable service in many fields such as business, education, health, sport, policing, community, charity and voluntary work.

"I congratulate all those from Northern Ireland who have been recognised in the Honours for their contribution to improving our society."