Northern Ireland archery legend Frank Mulligan has spoken about his pride at being awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s honours list.
The 74-year-old receives the BEM for services to Archery and the Arts in Northern Ireland.
Originally from Portadown, in 1970 Frank and his wife Patricia moved to Banbridge where he has been coaching the sport he loves ever since.
Over a staggering 47 year period Frank has coached thousands of archers in Northern Ireland inspiring many to local, national and international success including his children Peter, who won two gold medals at the World Championships in 1998 and 2004 when he was part of GB Field team, and Edel, the European barebow champion in 1999.
He has also founded a host of archery clubs in the area including St Patrick’s (1970), Banbridge (1975), Craigavon (1988), St Mary’s (1988) and Ballyvally (1996) where he was chairman for almost two decades.
The Ballyvally club in Banbridge is now the largest archery club in the country, averaging 300 members over the past 10 years with an age range from four to 92 years, and is one of the biggest in the UK and Ireland
Frank coaches for over 20 hours per week on a voluntary basis as well as setting up field archery courses around the province and has organised major events such as the British Open and All-Ireland Championships and the Field Archery section of the World Police and Fire Games when they were staged in Northern Ireland in 2013.
Married to Pat for 49 years, Frank has won a host of awards for his incredible service to the sport including GB Coach of the Year in 2002 and a National Unsung hero prize in 2011 from the British Archery Association.
The BEM also takes into account all that he has done for the arts in his community. In 1974 he was a founder member of the Banbridge Speech and Drama Committee which held its first festival a year later with over 400 entries. With Frank’s enthusiasm and drive it is still going strong and this year had almost 1750 entries.
Speaking about his award in the New Year’s Honours List, Frank said: “I’m extremely proud to receive such a prestigious award.
“It is fantastic recognition not just for myself but my wife Pat and our family. It is also a great honour for the Ballyvally Archery Club and everyone connected with our sport across Northern Ireland.
“I’m very grateful and feel humbled to be selected for a British Empire Medal and want to thank all the club volunteers who have helped me over many years, the local community and the people of Banbridge who have always supported me.
“I want to continue giving to the sport of archery and the arts in whatever way I can and look forward to doing that in the future.”
Chairman of Archery Northern Ireland Steven Beacom said: “For Frank to receive the British Empire Medal is deserved recognition for a wonderful man who, along with his wife Pat, has put his life and soul into the great sport of archery.
“Frank is an iconic figure in archery in Northern Ireland and beyond. It would be impossible to count the number of people, young and not so young, he has inspired over the years and I know he is far from finished.
“Everyone involved with Archery NI will be delighted that Frank is in the New Year’s Honours List.”
Chief Executive of Archery GB Neil Armitage added: “What Frank Mulligan has done for archery over the past 47 years has been extraordinary.
“He not only goes down as a great coach, but a great man for everything he has given to the sport and his community. No one deserves this award more than Frank.”