Veteran Banbridge councillor Jim McElroy has recalled many of the highlights of his career and paid tribute to the work of colleagues, in a touching retirement speech.
Councillor McElroy was a member of Banbridge District Council for 19 years, having previously served for six years in the old Urban Council.
“It was a wonderful experience and a great honour to serve the community on two occasions as chairman of Banbridge Council,” said councillor McIlroy, who served his first term as chairman in 2005-2006 with councillor Patrick McAleenan as vice chair, and the second in 2010-2011 with Ian Burns as vice chair.
“I met Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth, during the official opening of the FE McWilliams Centre in May 2009. This was a wonderful experience for me, and one which I shall never forget,” he continued.
“Another great event was receiving the MBE for Services to Local Government by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in November 2011 at Buckingham Palace.
“One of the highlights during my time as chairman was in June 2005 when I was Chieftain at the European Pipe Band Championships, in which 139 Pipe Bands from all over the world registered to take part. As a result, my wife and I were invited by the New Zealand Police Pipe Band to visit them in Wellington, which we thoroughly enjoyed.”
In 2006 councillor McElroy chose to support The Caron Keating Foundation at his Charity Banquet.
“This was arranged after speaking to Caron’s mother Gloria Hunniford,” he said. Councillor McElroy was delighted that Gloria and her husband were present on the evening at the Belmont Hotel, when over £5752 was raised.
Other key events during councillor McElroy’s time in office included a charity concert in aid of Diabetes UK in January 2011, the official opening of Rathfriland Bowling Pavilion in September 2005, the launch of Shop Watch and CCTV camera in Banbridge town centre in June 2005, and the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Civic Building in June 2006.
Councillor McElroy looks forward to the completion of the New Health Village and the new Bus Station at Kenlis Street the spadework for which, he says, can be attributed to the outgoing council.
Thanking both past and present chief executives along with directors, senior staff and member services, councillor McElroy said they had all been excellent workers.
In closing, councillor McElroy said: “As I look around the table this afternoon I feel a sense of sadness knowing that we shall never meet again as Banbridge District councillors, but I trust and pray that we shall all make preparation to meet again in heaven some day.”