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For an entire generation the mercurial Best was a footballing icon; a superstar and the best player on the planet bar none!
It all began in 1963, just two years after signing as a schoolboy for Manchester United, when he made his league debut for the club in a home fixture against West Bromwich Albion at the tender age of 17.
Even at that early stage it was plain to see George had it all: balance, pace, bravery, vision and most of all an unshakable belief in his own ability. The youngster from the Cregagh Estate in Belfast had the world at his feet.
Throughout the 1960s he was arguably the world’s greatest footballer, winning two league titles and a European Cup with Manchester United as well as being named European Football of the Year - and all that by the time he was 22.
On the international stage Best and Pat Jennings both made their debut in a 3-2 British International Championship win against Wales in 1964.
Just seven days later Best’s first International goal arrived when he opened the scoring in a 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat to Switzerland in Lausanne.
George himself believed his finest ever performance in a green shirt was the 1-0 victory over Scotland on a perfect autumn night at Windsor Park in October 1967. Best was unplayable that evening and only the sheer brilliance of Celtic goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson prevented him from getting on the scoresheet.
In February 1974 after 468 appearances and 178 goals, he called time on his Old Trafford career.
George became something of a journeyman following his Manchester United departure: he had spells in America with Los Angeles Aztecs and San Jose Earthquakes as well as stints with Fulham and Scottish Premier League side Hibernian in the mid to late 1970s.
In 1976, following a three-year absence, Northern Ireland boss Danny Blanchflower recalled him into the international fold for the World Cup tie with the Netherlands in Rotterdam.
Best, who was then starring with Fulham in the old second division, rolled back the years with a breathtaking performance against a Dutch side who were World Cup runners-up just two years previously.
He was to represent his country on just another four further occasions, before playing his final game in a 1-0 reverse to the Netherlands at Windsor Park in October 1977.
Following his retirement, George worked in the media as a football pundit for a number of years before sadly passing away on 25 November 2005 aged just 59.
Gareth John Lightbody OBE
Gary Lightbody is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist from Bangor, County Down. He is best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the alternative rock band Snow Patrol.
Gary started writing songs at the age of 15, in a little room under the kitchen of the family's house. He had few guitar lessons where he learnt the basics of the instrument but did not continue them, as he felt that one should not know any instrument "inside-out". He preferred to invent rather than use a formula.
Gary Lightbody has one sister, Sarah, and attended Rathmore Primary School, Rockport School and Campbell College, where he was first introduced to the writings of Seamus Heaney which inspired him to write his own poetry and songs. In 1994, Lightbody left home for Scotland to study English literature at the University of Dundee.
Gary formed a band with Mark McClelland and drummer Michael Morrison in 1994, called Shrug. Morrison left the band later, and the band were forced to change the name to Polarbear, as another band had claimed the name. In the band's first seven years of existence, they added drummer Jonny Quinn, released two albums (Songs for Polarbears, and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up), and toured with bands such as Levellers, Ash and Travis.
Gary's songwriting has earned him much praise. In October 2009, he revealed that a certain "public figure", whom he wanted to remain nameless, told him that the band had written songs that were standards in today's world, and that Snow Patrol songs had become a part of the public consciousness.
In July 2012, Gary received an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from the University of Ulster. Gary was honoured in November 2018 at the Northern Ireland Music Prize with an award for outstanding contribution to music.
Gary was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to music and to charity in Northern Ireland.
Alexander Gordon Higgins
Professional Snooker Player
Alex Higgins was a professional snooker player from Northern Ireland who is remembered as one of the most iconic figures in the game.
Nicknamed Hurricane Higgins because of his fast play, he was World Champion in 1972 and 1982, and runner-up in 1976 and 1980. He won the UK Championship in 1983 and the Masters in 1978 and 1981, making him one of eleven players to have completed snooker's Triple Crown. He was also World Doubles champion with Jimmy White in 1984, and won the World Cup three times with the All-Ireland team.
Higgins was raised in the Church of Ireland. He started playing snooker at the age of 11, often in the Jampot club in his native Sandy Row area of south Belfast and later in the YMCA in the nearby city centre. At age 14, he left for England and a career as a jockey. However, he never made the grade because he was too heavy to ride competitively. He returned to Belfast and by 1965, aged 16, he had compiled his first maximum break. In 1968 he won the All-Ireland and Northern Ireland Amateur Snooker Championships.
Higgins turned professional at the age of 22, winning the World Championship at his first attempt in 1972, against John Spencer winning 37–32. Higgins was then the youngest ever winner of the title, a record retained until Stephen Hendry's 1990 victory at the age of 21. In April 1976, Higgins reached the final again and faced Ray Reardon. Higgins led 10-9 but faded over the stretch in a match marred by erratic refereeing and a sub-standard table Reardon nevertheless pulled away to win the title for the fifth time, with the final score finishing at 27–16. Higgins was also the runner-up to Cliff Thorburn in 1980, losing 18–16, after being 9–5 up. Higgins won the world title for a second time in 1982 after beating Reardon 18–15 (with a 135 total clearance in the final frame); it was an emotional as well as professional victory for him. Higgins would have been ranked No. 1 in the world rankings for the 1982/83 season had he not forfeited ranking points following disciplinary action.
Throughout his career, Higgins won 20 other titles, one of the most notable being the 1983 UK Championship. In the final he trailed Steve Davis 0–7 before producing a famous comeback to win 16–15. He also won the Masters twice, in 1978 and in 1981, beating Cliff Thorburn and Terry Griffiths in the finals respectively. Another notable victory was his final professional triumph in the 1989 Irish Masters at the age of 40 when he defeated a young Stephen Hendry. This was the last professional tournament he won, and is often referred to as "The Hurricane's Last Hurrah.
Higgins came to be known as the "People's Champion" because of his popularity, and is often credited with having brought the game of snooker to a wider audience, contributing to its peak in popularity in the 1980s. He had a reputation as an unpredictable and difficult character.
Higgins died of multiple causes in his Belfast home on 24 July 2010. Higgins' funeral service was held at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, on 2 August 2010. He was buried in Carnmoney Cemetery in Newtownabbey, County Antrim. Among the snooker professionals in attendance were Jimmy White, Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty, Joe Swail, Shaun Murphy and John Virgo. Doherty and White were pall bearers.
Ruby Florence Murray
Ruby Florence Murray
Ruby Murray was singer and actress from Northern Ireland. One of the most popular singers in the British Isles in the 1950s, she scored ten hits in the UK Singles Chart between 1954 and 1959. She also made pop chart history in March 1955 by having five hits in the Top Twenty in a single week.
Ruby Florence Murray was born near the Donegall Road in south Belfast. She had surgery at six weeks of age due to swollen glands, and as a result, had a very husky voice. She toured as a child singer and first appeared on television at the age of 12, having been spotted by producer Richard Afton. Owing to laws governing children performing, Murray had to delay her start in the entertainment industry. She returned to Belfast and full-time education until she was 14.
After being again spotted by Afton, Murray was signed to Columbia and her first single, "Heartbeat", reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart in December 1954. Afton had offered her the position of resident singer on the BBC's Quite Contrary television show, to replace Joan Regan. "Softly, Softly", her second single, reached number one in early 1955. That same year Murray set a pop chart record by having five hits in the Top Twenty in one week, a feat unmatched for many years. In 2014, the Guinness Book of World Records issued three certificates confirming that at the date of issue, nobody had beaten this record, although it was shared with three other singers.
The 1950s was a busy period for Murray, during which she had her own television show, starred at the London Palladium with Norman Wisdom, appeared in a Royal Command Performance (1955), and toured the world. In a period of 52 weeks, starting on 3 December 1954 and lasting until the end of November 1955, Murray constantly had at least one single in the UK charts – this at a time when only a Top 20 was listed.
Murray appeared in her only film role, as Ruby, in A Touch of the Sun, a 1956 farce with Frankie Howerd and Dennis Price. A couple of hits followed later in the decade; "Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye", a No. 10 hit in 1959, was her final appearance in the charts. EMI put together a compilation album of her hits on CD in 1989, including songs that regularly featured in her act; "Mr. Wonderful", "Scarlet Ribbons" and "It's the Irish in Me". They updated this with the release of EMI Presents The Magic of Ruby Murray in 1997 and a four CD album, Anthology – The Golden Anniversary Collection, in 2005, the 50th anniversary of her peak successes on the charts.
Murray's popularity led to her name being adopted in Cockney rhyming slang as a rhyme for "curry". The phrase "have a ruby" appears in various episodes of the BBC TV comedy series Only Fools and Horses.
A play about Murray's life, Ruby, written by the Belfast playwright Marie Jones, opened at the Group Theatre in Belfast in April 2000. A second play, by Michael Cameron, opened in Belfast on 13 February 2019 and was sold out at all performances.
In 1957, while working in Blackpool, Murray met Bernie Burgess, a member of a successful television and recording vocal quartet, the Four Jones Boys. Shortly afterwards she left Northern Ireland to marry him and live with him in England. Burgess, contrary to press reports, did not become her manager, but rather his role was that of a supporting husband. The couple included a song-and-dance segment in Murray's act during the 1960s.
Murray struggled with alcoholism for most of her life and this contributed to the breakdown of her marriage in 1974. The divorce was finalised in 1976 and Murray moved to Torquay to live with an old friend, Ray Lamar, a former stage dancer and theatre impresario, who was 18 years her senior. They married in 1991 and spent the evening with a small party of friends and family at an Italian restaurant in Babbacombe.
Murray had two children from her marriage to Burgess, Julie (b. 1960) and Tim (b. 1965). Tim died unexpectedly from a heart condition in July 2020, aged 55.
Although her days as a major star were long over, Murray continued performing until close to the end of her life. Spending her last couple of years in Asprey's Nursing Home, she often delighted her carers with a song, and was visited by her friend Max Bygraves.
Carl Frampton MBE
Carl Frampton MBE
Carl Frampton was born on the 21st February 1987 and is from the Tiger's Bay area of North Belfast.
As an amateur, Frampton fought out of the Midland Boxing Club in Tiger's Bay and won the Irish senior flyweight title in 2005 and added the Irish featherweight title in 2009, beating David Oliver Joyce in the final.
At regional level, he held the European and Commonwealth super-bantamweight titles between 2011 and 2014.
Carl is a two-weight world champion, having held the unified WBA (Super) and IBFsuper bantamweight titles between 2014 and 2016, and the WBA (Super) featherweight title from 2016 to 2017.
He also held the WBO interim featherweight title in 2018.
By winning the featherweight world title in 2016, Frampton became the first boxer from Northern Ireland to have held world titles in two weight classes. This earned him Fighter of the Year awards by The Ring magazine, the Boxing Writers Association of America, and ESPN.
Carl Frampton was awarded an MBE by the Duke of Cambridge at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London on the 15th March 2016.
Carl is without doubt one of the best boxers Northern Ireland has ever produced.
Henry Campbell Liken McCullough
Henry Campbell Liken McCullough
Henry McCullough was a guitarist, singer and songwriter from Northern Ireland. He was best known for his work as a member of Spooky Tooth, the Grease Band, and Paul McCartney and Wings. He also performed and recorded as a solo artist and session musician.
McCullough was born in Portstewart, and first came to prominence in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with the Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen.
In 1964, with three other members of the Skyrockets, he left and formed a new showband fronted by South African born vocalist Gene Chetty, which they named Gene and the Gents.
In 1967 McCullough moved to Belfast where he joined Chris Stewart (bass), Ernie Graham (vocals) and Dave Lutton (drums) to form the psychedelic band the People. Later that year the band moved to London and were signed by Chas Chandler's management team, who changed the group's name to Éire Apparent. Under Chandler's guidance after a single release they toured with groups such as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, the Move and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, as well as Eric Burdon and the Animals.
Things went well until in Vancouver, Canada in mid-February 1968, while the band was touring with the Animals, McCullough returned to the United Kingdom, officially because of "visa problems" and Mick Cox flew out to take his place in the band. Back in Northern Ireland, around May 1968, McCullough joined folk group Sweeney's Men.
McCullough returned to London around 1969 to work with Joe Cocker as a member of his backing band, the Grease Band. With Cocker he toured the U.S. and performed at the Woodstock Festival. He later played on the Grease Band's eponymous album. During his time with the band he appeared as lead guitarist on the studio album of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) and on the progressive Spooky Tooth album The Last Puff (1970).
In 1971 Paul McCartney asked McCullough to join his new band, Wings, alongside Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell. Musical differences with McCartney, however, saw McCullough leave on the eve of the Band on the Run sessions. He had spent two years in the band, playing lead guitar on "Hi, Hi, Hi", "Live and Let Die" as well as "My Love".
McCullough's spoken words "I don't know; I was really drunk at the time" can be heard on the Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), at the end of the song "Money". He was recalling a fight he had the night before with his wife.
In 1975 McCullough joined the Frankie Miller Band with bassist Chris Stewart, keyboard player Mick Weaver and drummer Stu Perry. They recorded the album, The Rock with Miller. Later the same year McCullough released Mind Your Own Business on George Harrison's Dark Horse label.
McCullough played concerts as a session musician with Roy Harper, Frankie Miller, Eric Burdon, Marianne Faithfull, Ronnie Lane and Donovan. In 1977 he temporarily joined Dr. Feelgood, following the departure of Wilko Johnson.
Recovering from an injury to his hand while visiting his family in 1980, McCullough decided to stay in Ireland. He began to sit in with old friends the Fleadh Cowboys, at their Sunday afternoon residency in The Lower Deck in Dublin. Following this he moved back to Portstewart, in Northern Ireland, and put a new band together. He was joined by Percy Robinson on pedal steel guitar, Roe Butcher on bass and Liam Bradley on drums.
In 1998 McCullough travelled to Poland, where he rehearsed with a band of Polish musicians for a tour. After the tour, they recorded a 'live' album which was released as Blue Sunset. This was followed by a further Polish tour. On returning home, McCullough recorded and released "Failed Christian", a song that has since been covered by Nick Lowe on his album Dig My Mood.
McCullough continued to record and perform and released solo material, including Belfast To Boston (2001) and Unfinished Business (2003). The latter contained his 1998 single, "Failed Christian". McCullough performed at concerts in Northern Ireland and Scotland, playing with a backing band (featuring Stephen Quinn on drums and Sean McCarron on saxophone).
McCullough contributed guitar on and organised the band for the Alaskan musician, The Rev Neil Down's 2003 release, When A Wrong Turns Right. The Henry McCullough Band – FBI Live was released in 2007 on Mundell music, from a recording at The Famous Bein Inn in 2006.
In 2007, Over the Rhine covered "Failed Christian" on their album, Live from Nowhere, Vol. II. In the same year, McCullough started to work with Dave Sharp from the Alarm) and together they enlisted keyboard player Zoot Money, bassist Gary Fletcher and drummer Colin Allen, a line up which became known as the Hard Travelers. In January 2008 the Hard Travelers performed their debut gig at The Cellars in Portsmouth.
In 2008 McCullough recorded Poor Man's Moon at Amberville Studios, which was released in Ireland only on 5 September 2008. and featured new McCullough compositions. The album also included a number of songs co-written with poet Eamon Carr from Horslips and included the single "Too Late to Worry". Among the musicians featured on the album were keyboard player James Delaney, bassists Roe Butcher and Nicky Scott (also double bass), keyboard player Enda Walsh, drummer Adie McIlduff and Percy Robinson on dobro and pedal steel guitar. The album also included drum sequences by Peter McKinney.
At the end of 2007 he worked on the album "Dark Nite of the Soul" with Jeff Greene as well as other musical collaborations recorded at Wind-Mill Lane Studios, Dublin Metropolis Studios London and The Sound Kitchen Nashville. McCullough attended Paul McCartney's concert at the O2 in Dublin on 20 December 2009 and McCartney publicly acknowledged McCullough's contribution to Wings. On 13 March 2010, McCullough and his band were the headline act at the Fifestock Festival at the Inn at Lathones, Scotland.
McCullough remained active in the European music scene and played regular live gigs with artists including Ed Deane, James Delaney, Noel Bridgeman, also John Quearney. In 2011 Henry collaborated with songwriter Paul Doherty and the Vals on the track "Look to the One". The song gained worldwide airplay, with McCullough contributing backing vocals and guitar.
McCullough suffered a heart attack in November 2012, leaving him in critical condition. His death was mistakenly reported on Ronan Collins's RTÉ Radio 1 show on 7 November and the BBC also apologised after prematurely reporting his death. In an interview with website Something Else, Denny Seiwell, who had played with McCullough in Wings, stated that it was doubtful McCullough would make a complete recovery.
On 17 March 2015 a benefit concert for Henry McCullough was held at The Half Moon, Putney music venue, featuring Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe, Andy Fairweather Low, Suggs and Bobby Tench (who also performed with the backing band). The backing band was entitled Henry's Heroes and included Tim Hinkley, Mel Collins, Neil Hubbard and John Halsey and bass player Kuma Harada.
On 14 June 2016, his wife Josie confirmed that he had died at his home at Ballywindelland, Ballymoney, earlier that morning after a long illness. He had never fully recovered from the heart attack he suffered in 2012. Some sources state he also suffered a major stroke.
Jonathan Rea MBE
Jonathan Rea MBE
Jonathan Rea, MBE (born 2 February 1987) is from Ballyclare, County Antrim. He is a professional motorcycle racer, competing in the Superbike World Championship.
Rea's family background lies in motorcycle road racing. His father, Johnny, competed at the Isle of Man TT and took his sole victory during the 1989 Junior TT race. His grandfather, John, sponsored Joey Dunlop.
One of the most talented young racers in any class of competition today, Jonathan Rea started his two-wheeled education early, winning the British 60cc motocross championship in 1997. He moved through the motocross classes and made the leap to road racing in 2003, in the British 125cc championship.
After running in Supersport for a time, and having recovered from a serious injury along the way, he moved into the prestigious British Superbike class. He became the youngest ever rider to secure a BSB pole position in 2005, and his talent was now moving beyond mere potential.
Five race wins and 16 podiums in total helped take him to the runner-up spot in 2007, before wider horizons beckoned.
He made the transition to the World Supersport championship in 2008, debuting in the series with the HANNspree Ten Kate Honda team. Riding Honda's CBR600RR alongside eventual world champion Andrew Pitt, Jonathan finished as runner-up in the championship in his rookie season, winning his first race at Brno and three in total.
He took his first WSBK steps even before the 2008 season had been completed, moving up to the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda Superbike team for the final round and impressing all who watched him attack the leading riders at Portimao.
In 2009 he moved up to World Superbike level with Ten Kate full-time and his mature approach to machine development paid dividends, despite the high-class field of competitors he was up against. His methodical work ethic and dynamic riding style were rewarded with two race wins and a further six podiums, good enough for fifth place overall.
For the following season, a top three championship finish seemed inevitable until a nasty fall at Imola injured his left shoulder and wrist, leaving him unable to defend his points advantage in the final two rounds. He was finally ranked fourth, missing third by only five points, however, his four race wins and ten podiums in total marked him out as something special.
The 2011 season began with injures sustained in a pre-season testing crash in Australia and, in spite of a win at Assen in April, worse was to come. A high-speed tumble at Misano left Rea with a wrist injury that left him sidelined for three months.
However, in his absence, the Ten Kate crew worked tirelessly with electronics partner Cosworth to develop a ride-by-wire throttle system that gave Rea a comeback win at Imola and pole positions in Magny-Cours and Portimao.
Two further race wins at Assen and Donington Park – along with four second place finishes – followed in 2012 but Rea could only match his fifth place overall from 2009 as the World Superbike championship proved once again that technical development of the world’s finest sportsbikes does not stand still for a moment.
Injury struck again in 2013 at a point in the season when Rea showed that he and his team had begun to dial in a sophisticated new electronics package. While battling with the leading group at Nurburgring, he crashed on oil from another rider’s machine, fracturing his left femur and ending his season.
In 2014 Jonathan remained with the Ten Kate squad and continued to defy the odds by consistently recording strong results. Over the course of the season he won four races, including a double at Imola, and claimed five other podium places, all of which secured third place overall in the Championship. This was his best finish in the Superbike class to date. At the end of the year it was announced that Jonathan would end his long association with Honda and would move to Kawasaki Racing Team to race the Ninja ZX-10R alongside 2013 World Champion, Tom Sykes.
The new season and the new partnership with Kawasaki could not have started any better when Jonathan won the first race of the season at Phillip Island in Australia. This set him on an unbelievable run of form that continued all season, culminating in the World Championship crown being secured three rounds early at Jerez in Spain. In total Rea’s dream season included 14 wins and 23 podiums, amassing 548 points, just a few short of an all time record.
The 2016 Championship began in the same way with Jonathan, in his second year with Kawasaki, scoring eight wins and 16 podium finishes to reach the season summer break with a commanding lead. It was only an uncharacteristic technical fault that ended that run at the US round in Laguna Seca. In a thrilling season finale, where the Championship was only decided at the final round in Qatar, another win and five podium places brought Rea the Superbike world title once more. He joined illustrious company by being one of only four riders to secure back to back world titles in the history of the FIM Superbike World Championship.
In 2017, Jonathan created yet more Superbike history by becoming the first rider to secure three back-to-back titles. Along the way he won no fewer than 16 of the 26 races, while a further eight podium finishes took him to the largest points total in the championship’s history, breaking the 2002 record of Colin Edwards.
Further records tumbled in 2018, including his 60th World Superbike victory at Brno in the Czech Republic, overhauling the long-standing record of WSBK legend, Carl Fogarty and equalling the most number of wins in a season at 17, set by Doug Pollen in 1992. His Superbike career wins tally now stands at 71 (56 for Kawasaki). Most importantly in 2018 Jonathan claimed his fourth consecutive FIM Superbike World Championship title, equalling Fogarty's record of championship crowns but being the only rider in history to win four in a row.
The year past, 2019, was possibly the toughest since Jonathan joined Kawasaki back in 2015. It was a season of two halves where perennial rivals Ducati, and their new rider, Alvaro Bautista, set off with a winning streak that ran for the first four rounds. However, come round five in Imola Jonathan bounced back with a double win. He and the Kawasaki team continued to push and by round eight at Donington Park, JR had taken over the series lead and would once again clinch the championship at Magny Cours in France. In total Jonathan won 17 races in 2019, extending his career total to 88 (73 with Kawasaki) and bacame the first rider in the history of the championship to win six world titles.
World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020.
Rea married Tatia, an Australian known as 'Tarsh' (whom he met when she worked promoting UK-based superbike team Honda Racing) at a 2012 ceremony in the Lake District.
He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to motorcycle racing. Queen's University Belfast conferred an honorary doctorate on Rea during December 2019.
William MacQuitty was a producer, and also a writer and photographer, from Northern Ireland.
He is most noted for his production of the 1958 Rank Organisation / Pinewood Studios film, A Night to Remember, which recreates the story of the sinking of RMS Titanic, based on the book of the same name by Walter Lord. MacQuitty had seen Titanic being launched, when he was a child.
Born in Belfast, the son of the managing director of the Belfast Telegraph, he was educated at Campbell College. MacQuitty had seen Titanic being launched on 31 May 1911 and still remembered the occasion vividly. He also watched the maiden voyage departure the following year. MacQuitty attained employment with the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China (known today as the Standard Chartered), at the age of 18, where he remained until 1939.
In 1926, he was posted to the Far East, joining the Auxiliary Punjab Light Horse at Amritsar, who were a handful of volunteer soldiers whose job was to defend the memsahibs and the children in a city that was widely regarded as one of the most seditious in India.
In 1928 he became a founder member of the Lahore Flying Club. Further postings in the Far East included Ceylon, Siam, Malaya and China before he resigned and returned to Northern Ireland in 1939.
Intending to take up psychoanalysis as a career, MacQuitty started a seven-year medical course in London but his amateur film Simple Silage, made for the benefit of Ulster farming neighbours, came to the attention of the Ministry of Information, launching him on a new and unexpected career.
After an informal apprenticeship working with the established film producer Sydney Box, MacQuitty's film contributions to the war effort included Out of Chaos, a portrait of the war artists Henry Moore, Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland, among others, and The Way We Live (1946), which chronicled the rebuilding of the heavily bombed city of Plymouth. He also filmed T. S. Eliot reading Little Gidding, and Stanley Spencer and his crucifix painting in Cookham
In 1951 he co-founded London Independent Producers with Sydney Box. Big feature films then followed, including The Happy Family (1952), Street Corner (1953), The Beachcomber (1954), and Above Us the Waves (1954) which starred John Mills – an account of the disabling of the German Battleship Tirpitz by British Midget submarines. It premiered in Malta, attended by Prince Philip, in 1954. The British premiere took place the following year with a celebrity guest list headed by the Queen and Lord Mountbatten of Burma. It became Winston Churchill's favourite film.
His most famous and brilliant film creation came in 1958, with A Night to Remember, starring Kenneth More, recalling the sinking of RMS Titanic. As a six-year-old, MacQuitty had witnessed the ship being launched from the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast in May 1911, and watched the maiden voyage departure the following year. For the making of the film, he enlisted several Titanic survivors including Joseph Boxhall – Fourth Officer on Titanic – who was MacQuitty's personal advisor. Many scholars and film critics still regard this film as the best of all the Titanic films (of which there are at least twelve). He was amused and flattered in 1997 when James Cameron, who had just completed his own epic on Titanic, took the trouble to thank him personally for his vision in creating A Night to Remember and causing a "ripple effect through modern culture" which he said had partly inspired his own film.
In 1959, MacQuitty helped to found Ulster Television, becoming its first managing director and running the station, creating a link with Queen's University, Belfast, and showing Britain's first adult education program, Midnight Oil, foreshadowing the Open University. His last major film was The Informers (1964).
MacQuitty's first book, Abu Simbel, was based on his experiences. Published in 1965, The Times called it "lavishly illustrated with his own photographs". He went on to produce almost a book a year on a variety of subjects, reflecting his interests in the Orient, all illustrated with his award-winning photographs from a library of a quarter of a million taken by him over 60 years in 75 different countries. Buddha, published in 1969 included a foreword by the Dalai Lama, and in 1971 the Shah of Iran sponsored a large volume to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of his country.
His most successful book, published in 1972, was Tutankhamun: The Last Journey, which sold half a million copies. His definitive photograph of Tutankhamun's funerary mask was seen all over the world, as it was used as the poster for the 1972 British Museum exhibition of the tomb's treasures.
In 2002 the Royal Photographic Society described him as "a phenomenon in film", and he was awarded the Society's Lumiè re Award for distinction in film and photography.
Throughout his life, MacQuitty was endlessly delighted to learn from the people he met all around the world, particularly the Orient and the Middle East and was enthralled by the exotic contrast with his homeland. He had no time for racial hatred. He enjoyed multiple career paths and amassed a huge tally in what he referred to as "The Banquet of Life".
He published his autobiography, A Life to Remember, at age 86 in 1991. He died in London, in 2004 aged 98.
Colin Henry Turkington
Colin Henry Turkington
Colin Turkington is an auto racing driver, from Northern Ireland, who is currently competing in the British Touring Car Championship.
Turkington, who was born in Portadown, began his racing career in the Ulster Karting series in 1993. He competed in autograss in 1996 and 1997, before moving on to the Northern Irish Metro Championship in 1998, where he won his first title. He moved on to the Ford Credit Fiesta Zetec Championship in Britain in 1999, winning the title in 2001.
Turkington moved to the BTCC in 2002. His first BTCC drive was in a year-old MG ZS, sponsored by the pop group Atomic Kitten, partnering fellow Fiesta graduate Gareth Howell. He finished 14th in the Drivers' Championship.
For 2003, Turkington moved to the manufacturer-backed West Surrey Racing, winning his first race at Brands Hatch and finishing 8th in the Drivers' Championship. Despite the loss of official MG backing in 2004, he finished 6th in the 2004 Drivers' Championship, taking the second win of his BTCC career at Mondello Park.
For 2005, Turkington replaced champion James Thompson at Vauxhall. He finished 6th in the Drivers' Championship again, a performance which was not enough for him to retain the seat for the following season.
For 2006, Turkington rejoined WSR to drive an RAC-backed MG ZS alongside Rob Collard. A strong first half of the season made him the closest challenger to Matt Neal for the title, although Jason Plato pipped him to 2nd in the Drivers' Championship in the final race of the year. Late in the season, the team switched to bio-ethanol fuel, almost becoming the first team to win a race with it. He finished 3rd in the 2006 Drivers' Championship, with two wins and 14 podium finishes.
For 2007, the BTC-spec MG was no longer eligible to win the championship outright, so the team switched to the BMW 320si. Turkington's first win of the season (and BMW's first in the BTCC for over a decade) came in the fourth weekend of the championship at Croft. Turkington went on to win his first Independent Drivers' title, finishing 5th in the overall Drivers' Championship, with three wins.
Turkington competed with WSR in the Brands Hatch and Macau rounds of the World Touring Car Championship in 2007. At Brands Hatch, he finished 3rd in the first race on and then finished 4th in the second race, but as his car was not homologated because of its sequential gearbox, Turkington did not collect championship points. In Macau, he finished 13th and 8th in the two races.
In 2008, he was joined at WSR by Formula Three driver Stephen Jelley. Turkington won four races on his way to 5th in the Drivers' Championship, while also retaining his Independent Drivers' crown. He also finished every race that season in the top 10.
In 2009, Turkington took the championship lead at the mid-season point, and went on to win the BTCC title in a thrilling finale, after winning six races. Turkington finished consistently, with an unbroken run of eighteen point-scoring finishes, from Croft onwards, failing to finish in just one race. However WSR lost the title sponsor RAC and Turkington could not attempt to retain his title in 2010.
In 2013, Turkington returned to the BTCC with WSR (now competing as eBay Motors). He drove one of their three new BMW 125is. He finished 5th in the 2013 Drivers' Championship after taking five race wins.
Turkington stayed with the team for the 2014 season, taking eight race wins and eventually winning his second BTCC Drivers' title.
After winning the championship with eBay Motors in 2014, Turkington switched to Team BMR for the 2015 season, driving alongside Jason Plato, Aron Smith and Warren Scott. In 2016, Team BMR announced a change of car to the Subaru Levorg, and after months of testing entered it into the 2016 season. The Subaru idea sprung up when Jason Plato and one of his engineers were talking back in 2012 about a works Subaru team. After a slow start at Brands Hatch and Donington Park where the team spent their time trying to develop the Subaru, Turkington scored a best finish of 10th at Donington Park. The team withdrew all four Subarus from the Thruxton round after an issue with the fuel line potentially causing fires.
The Levorg gained its first win in the BTCC at Oulton Park in Round 10. Turkington took a further 4 wins before the season ended and finished 4th in the drivers championship standings.
For 2017, Turkington once again re-joined the outfit headed by Dick Bennetts; the source of his previous two championship victories. He joined Andrew Jordan and Rob Collard in a trio of BMW 125i M Sports - the car was a development from when Turkington won the 2014 championship.
Turkington collided with Matt Neal off the startline at the season opener at Brands Hatch, but salvaged a 9th place finish in Race 2 from the back of the grid after a last-gasp move on Michael Epps. He finished second in Race 3 behind teammate Andrew Jordan. During the year, the Ulsterman took 4 race wins, including the 100th BTCC win for BMW at Thruxton. He went into the final round battling for the championship with Ashley Sutton, his replacement at Team BMR. Despite the title fight going down to the final race, his hopes ended when he collided with Mat Jackson early in the race, meaning he finished the year as runner-up.
He is the reigning BTCC champion, having won it for the fourth time in 2019.
Paul Thompson Clark MBE
Paul Thompson Clark MBE
Paul Clark is a television presenter and journalist from Northern Ireland. He is currently a presenter and reporter for UTV Live.
Clark was among the original presenters on RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979 and later presented on BBC Radio Ulster. Other early television programmes Clark presented were Green Rock in 1979 with Caron Keating and Advice Line for the BBC.
Clark moved from presenting and reporting for BBC Northern Ireland's Inside Ulster to Ulster Television in 1989. In his time at UTV, he has been a presenter and reporter on the evening news magazines Six Tonight and UTV Live, Witness Review and UTV School Choir of the Year.
He has also contributed to historical and religious documentaries including We Were Brothers, and memorial services for the 10th anniversary of the Remembrance Day bombing in 1997 and Belfast's hosting of Holocaust Memorial Day in 2004.
Clark is patron of the Northern Ireland Hospice. He is married to Carol and has two children, sons Peter and David. He is a practising Presbyterian, though he was brought up Roman Catholic.
Paul Clark was awarded an MBE in 2013 for Voluntary Service to the Community in Northern Ireland.
In June 2015, Clark was awarded an honorary degree by the Ulster University for services to broadcasting and his charity work with UNICEF.
Kelly Marie Gallagher MBE
Kelly Marie Gallagher MBE
Kelly Marie Gallagher, MBE (born 18 May 1985), is a British skier and the first athlete from Northern Ireland to compete in the Winter Paralympics. Gallagher won Britain's first ever Winter Paralympic gold medal during Sochi 2014.
Gallagher was born on 18 May 1985 and was raised in Bangor, County Down. Her father, Patrick Gallagher, was an airline pilot. She is a graduate in mathematics.
Gallagher has oculocutaneous albinism, is visually impaired and competes with a sighted guide. At the 2009 New Zealand Winter Games Gallagher, competing with guide Claire Robb, won gold in her first ever international race, the giant slalom.
She was selected for the British team at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in February 2010. Gallagher is funded by the Sport Northern Ireland Athlete Support Programme and supported by the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland and is also backed by Disability Sports NI.
Gallagher was one of seven skiers for Great Britain at the 2010 Winter Paralympics and became the first athlete from Northern Ireland to compete in the Winter Paralympics. At the Games she contested the giant slalom and slalom events for visually impaired athletes. She finished sixth in the slalom but achieved the British team's highest finish, missing out on a medal by a single place and 3.36 seconds in the giant slalom.
Following the Paralympics Gallagher sought a new sighted guide to work with her through to the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi and selected 19-year-old Charlotte Evans from Medway. Evans had been out of the sport after she snapped a cruciate ligament in 2009 but took up the role having become a qualified coach.
In January 2011 Gallagher became the first British athlete to win a medal at the IPC World Championships. Competing with Evans the pair won the silver medal in the slalom and bronze in the giant slalom at the event held in Sestriere only five weeks after they started working together. The pairing also won a gold medal in slalom at the 2011 Europa Cup Finals.
Gallagher won Britain's first ever Winter Paralympic gold on 10 March 2014, during the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. She finished first in the visually impaired Super-G competition. She fell during both the super-combined and the giant slalom.
She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to sport for people with a visual impairment. The Ski Club of Great Britain awarded her with a Pery Medal along with the other medal winners from the 2014 Olympics and Paralympics.
In 2017 Gallagher was selected for the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio in Italy. Partnered with Gary Smith, she crashed during training on the championship sloped and injured herself after colliding into the safety netting. She sustained a dislocated elbow and three fractured ribs in the accident and was airlifted to a local hospital. Gallagher's injuries ruled her out of the championship and her subsequent rehabilitation meant that she only returned to the slopes in the season leading up to the 2018 Winter Paralympics. Despite losing time to her injuries Gallagher was still able to secure her place in the Great Britain team for the 2018 Paralympics.
At the 2019 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships, Gallagher and Smith narrowly missed out on medals in the slalom and the giant slalom by finishing fourth, being pipped to the bronze by a tenth of a second in the latter by team-mates Menna Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Kehoe. However they claimed their first medal of the championships in the downhill, where they took a silver behind Fitzpatrick and Kehoe. They then went on to take two bronzes in the super-G and combined, increasing Gallagher's number of Worlds medals won to nine.
Steven Davis MBE
Steven Davis MBE
Steven Davis MBE is a professional footballer from Northern Ireland who plays as a midfielder for Scottish Premiership club Rangers and is the captain of the Northern Ireland national team.
Davis made his full international debut in 2005 and in October 2020 he became Northern Ireland's most capped player with 120 caps at senior level.
Davis began his career with Premier League club Aston Villa in 2004. He was named "Young Player of the Year", "The Fans Player of the Year" and "Player of the Year" for the 2005–06 season after making 42 appearances during the season.
Davis was sold to Fulham for £4 million in the summer of 2007, but moved on loan to Scottish club Rangers in January 2008 for an initial six months. He was part of the team that reached the 2008 UEFA Cup Final and that won the 2007–08 Scottish League Cup and 2007–08 Scottish Cup. At the end of the season, he moved permanently to Rangers for £3 million. He made 211 appearances for the Glasgow club, winning three consecutive league titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups.
In 2012 he returning to the English Premier League with Southampton, during his later years with Southampton, he captained the side, however in 2019, he made the move back to Rangers under Steven Gerrard as manager.
Davis made his full international debut on 9 February 2005 in a 1–0 loss to Canada, and made the assist for David Healy in Northern Ireland's famous 1–0 victory over England in a 2006 World Cup qualification match on 7 September. Davis' first goal came against Wales in a 3–2 home defeat in another qualifier on 8 October. He was also part of the team who beat Spain 3–2 at Windsor Park in September 2006.
On 21 May 2006, he became Northern Ireland's youngest modern day captain against Uruguay in the United States, a 1–0 loss.
On 8 October 2015, Davis scored twice in a 3–1 victory over Greece to help Northern Ireland qualify for the final tournament of Euro 2016, their first European Championship.
In November 2019, he won his 116th cap against the Netherlands and became the most capped British midfielder, passing David Beckham.
On 7 September 2020, he equaled Pat Jennings Northern Ireland record of 119 caps, and 6 away from becoming the most capped British player of all time, Peter Shilton.
Davis was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to football.
Nigel John Dermot "Sam" Neill, DCNZM OBE
Nigel John Dermot "Sam" Neill, DCNZM OBE
Sam Neill is an actor, writer, producer, director and vineyard proprietor.
Neill was born in 1947 in Omagh, County Tyrone, to Priscilla Beatrice (born Ingham) and Dermot Neill. His father, an army officer, was a third-generation New Zealander, while his mother was born in England. His great-grandfather Percy Neill left Belfast in Northern Ireland for New Zealand in 1860, settling in Dunedin. He was the son of a wine merchant importing wine from France.
At the time of Neill's birth, his father was stationed in Northern Ireland, serving with the Royal Irish Fusiliers . His father's family owned Neill and Co. (later part of the listed hospitality group Wilson Neill).
Neill first achieved recognition with his appearance in the 1977 film Sleeping Dogs, which he followed with leading roles in My Brilliant Career (1979), Omen III: The Final Conflict, Possession (both 1981), A Cry in the Dark (1988), Dead Calm (1989), The Hunt For Red October (1990), and The Piano (1993). He came to international prominence as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park (1993).
Outside of film, Neill has appeared in numerous television series, including Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983), The Simpsons (1994), Merlin (1998), The Tudors (2007), Crusoe (2008–2010), Happy Town (2010), Alcatraz (2012), Peaky Blinders (2013–2014) and Rick and Morty (2019). He has also presented and narrated several documentaries.
Neill was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1991 for his work as an actor. In 2007, Neill was appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DCNZM). When knighthoods were returned to the New Zealand royal honours system in 2009, those with DCNZM or higher honours were given the option of converting them into knighthoods. Neill chose not to do this, saying the title of Sir was "just far too grand, by far".
Neill was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Canterbury in 2002. In 2020, he received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award, limited to 20 living people.
Rachel Furness (born 19 June 1988) is an English-born Northern Irish footballer who plays for FA Women's Championship club Liverpool and the Northern Ireland national team. A powerful central midfielder, she featured as a winger or striker earlier in her career. Furness' ex-manager at Sunderland, Mick Mulhern, described her as "a strong and determined player.
Furness attended Usworth Comprehensive School and represented Durham at County level. By season 2002–03 she was already playing for Chester-le-Street Ladies, alongside several other youngsters and former England striker Aran Embleton.
In 2004 Furness moved to Gateshead College to study sports development and fitness. She began playing for the women's football academy at the college and Sunderland. Jill Scott was a teammate in both sides.
In 2006 Furness moved to Northumbria University to study sports development with coaching, and swapped Sunderland for Newcastle United. However, she had by then suffered a serious knee injury, which required two operations and the removal of most of the cartilage. Doctors advised Furness to stop playing football but she nevertheless resumed playing for Newcastle United.
In December 2009, Furness scored one and made the other for Mel Reay, as Newcastle drew 2–2 at OOH Lincoln Ladies in the FA Women's Cup—only to miss her penalty in the shootout defeat.
Furness spent the 2010 summer season in Iceland with Grindavik, then rejoined Sunderland – making her second debut for the club in a 4–0 Premier League Cup win over Newcastle in October 2010. After helping Sunderland win the Premier League title, Furness joined FA WSL club Lincoln Ladies on loan. She made a quick debut in Lincoln's 1–0 home defeat to Chelsea in May, the last game before the WSL mid–season break. She returned to parent club Sunderland before the WSL re–started in July.
In January 2017, Furness left Sunderland for Reading shortly after the Lady Black Cats reverted to part-time status.
Furness joined Tottenham Hotspur on a season-long loan from Reading on 6 September 2019. On 28 December 2019, Furness joined Liverpool, after being recalled by Reading.
Chester-le-Street director of coaching Bill Godward alerted the Football Association to Furness' potential at an early stage. However, she was overlooked by England because she was not attached to a club with a centre of excellence or academy. Furness then accepted a call-up from Northern Ireland, and represented them in an U17 tournament in Spring 2004. Although born and raised in Tyne and Wear, Furness was eligible for Northern Ireland as her mother was born in Belfast.
After representing her adopted homeland at U17 and U19 level, Furness progressed to the senior international team. In November 2005 she scored against Slovakia, in Northern Ireland's first competitive home match for 20 years. Following a two-year absence from the national team caused by injury, Furness returned in time for the 2011 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
She contributed four goals, including a hat-trick against Croatia, as Northern Ireland ultimately finished third in their group behind France and Finland. In November 2011 Furness scored in Northern Ireland's shock 3–1 Euro 2013 qualifying win over former World and Olympic champions Norway.
Furness also represented Irish Universities at the World University Games, playing in the 2009 tournament in Belgrade. Two years later she was named in the Great Britain Universities squad for the event in Shenzhen.
Quintin Charles Devenish Lawson
Quintin Charles Devenish Lawson
Charlie Lawson is an actor from Northern Ireland who is best known for playing Jim McDonald in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street.
Charlie was born in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, the son of a businessman. Raised in a Protestant family, he was educated at Campbell College, a grammar school in Belfast. He then trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where a classmate and good friend of his was fellow Enniskillen native Adrian Dunbar, whom Lawson has said was the first Catholic he had ever met.
Lawson has appeared in at least three films and in at least twenty television productions. He is probably best known for appearing as Jim McDonald (who is originally from Belfast) in the ITV television soap opera Coronation Street. He first appeared as Jim in 1989 and remained a regular character for the next 11 years.
His other television work includes appearing as Seamus Duffryn in the 1982 Yorkshire Television thriller miniseries Harry's Game (also known as Belfast Assassin), and as one of the main characters, Billy, in Mike Leigh's television film Four Days in July, both based on The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
He played Trigg in the 1989 television film The Firm. He has also appeared in various other television series including Doctors (twenty-four episodes), Bread (eleven episodes), The Bill (three episodes) and Rosemary & Thyme (one episode).
In 2000, Lawson made a programme for ITV Granada, Passion for Peace, which followed him back to Northern Ireland and reported on the creation of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Centre in Warrington.
In 2005, Lawson appeared in the TV documentary Titanic: Birth of a Legend.
In 2009, Lawson appeared alongside an eight-foot Frankfurter sausage in a German television commercial, advertising hot dogs. His overdubbed catchphrase in the commercial is Betrachten Sie die Größe meiner Wurst! (English: "Look at the size of my sausage!").
In 2010, Lawson revealed that he would be returning to Coronation Street for its fiftieth anniversary celebrations. He speculated that bosses may be planning to kill his character off, however, this never happened. He stayed until April 2011. Lawson then returned for a three-month stint on the soap between August and November 2014.
In 2015, Lawson made a guest appearance in an episode of the Comedy Central sitcom Brotherhood as the father of the three main characters.
He also appeared as Doctor Black in the 2016 BBC drama My Mother and Other Strangers.
Lawson returned to Coronation Street in September 2018 with his supposed long lost daughter from his relationship with Liz.
Lawson has been married twice, and has a daughter, Laura, from his second marriage. He lives in Belfast with his partner, Debbie Stanley, having previously lived with her in Chester, Cheshire, for a number of years.
On 8 October 2018, while portraying Inspector John Rebus in the play Long Shadows in Edinburgh, Lawson suffered a minor stroke on stage, but recovered shortly afterwards.
David Healy MBE
David Healy MBE
David Jonathan Healy MBE is a former Northern Ireland Internationalist and is thr current manager of Linfield Football Club.
A striker, he is the all-time leading scorer for Northern Ireland with 36 goals, and also shares the record for the highest scoring tally during a UEFA European Championshipqualifying campaign of 13 goals, shared with Robert Lewandowski.
Healy was born and raised in Killyleagh, Northern Ireland, and played for Crossgar, Lisburn Youth and Down Academy High School in Downpatrick.
He began his career as a youth player at Manchester United in 1995, turning professional in 1999, but signed for Preston North End two years later after a short loan spell.
He spent three years with Preston, maintaining a healthy goals to games ratio, before transferring to Leeds United in 2004. After three years to Leeds he moved on to Fulham for a season, before settling at Sunderland in 2008.
He moved north to Scotland to play for Rangers in January 2011. He helped the club to the SPL title in 2010–11 and also played in the 2011 League Cup final victory, before departing at the end of the 2011–12 season, when his contract expired.
He joined Bury for a one-season spell in August 2012. In addition to these clubs he has also played for Port Vale, Norwich City, Ipswich Town, and Doncaster Rovers on loan.
Before representing his country at a senior level, he also played for both the under-21 team and the B team.
He made his début for Northern Ireland on 23 February 2000, putting a brace past Luxembourg. On the 7th September 2005, at Windsor Park, Healy helped secure a famous victory for his country against England in a World Cup qualifier when he scored the only goal of the game. This was his nation's first win over the English since 1972.
On the 6th September 2006, Healy became the first man since Colin Clarke to score a hat-trick for Northern Ireland and the first since George Best to do so in Belfast. His three goals gave Northern Ireland a historic 3–2 victory over Spain.
Healy followed this feat with the winner against Latvia on 11 October 2006. In the following international game, against Liechtenstein, he scored a second hat-trick, thus becoming the first player ever to score two hat-tricks for Northern Ireland.
He scored both of Northern Ireland's goals in a 2–1 win against Sweden on 28 March 2007, and two more against Liechtenstein on 22 August, followed by a penalty away to Iceland on 12 September. On 17 November 2007, when he scored against Denmark, it was his 13th goal in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying Group F tournament (in eleven games). This made him the highest-ever goalscorer in a UEFA European Championshipqualifying campaign.
The previous record, of twelve goals in ten games, had been set by Davor Šuker of Croatia in 1996. As a result, Healy was presented with the award by Michel Platini, who quoted: "David Healy's record goes down in history and he beat a world-class striker in Davor Suker to do so. The outstanding performance of David in the qualifying competition of the European Championship and his goal tally of 13 goals is a new record and deserves to be recognised. I am sure that this record will last for some time to come and will be hard to beat. This is why I will be presenting him with a special award to celebrate his fantastic achievement."
He won a total of 95 senior caps, making him Northern Ireland's third most capped outfield player and fourth overall in the nation's all-time appearances chart behind goalkeeper Pat Jennings (119), Aaron Hughes (112) and Steve Davis (108). His 36 international goals make him the nation's all-time leading goalscorer by a considerable distance.
He began his management career Irish League side Linfield in October 2015, and led the club to an Irish League Premiership, Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield treble in 2016–17.
John Joseph Linehan MBE
John Joseph Linehan MBE
John Joseph Linehan MBE is an entertainer from Northern Ireland, most known for his drag queen character May McFettridge. Linehan has, in character, been a long-running feature on local radio and television, as well as a regular pantomime dame.
John Linehan was a car mechanic before he rose to fame in the guise of his plain-speaking, gap-toothed housewife character, May McFettridge. Eamonn Holmes, a relative, had asked Linehan to phone his then radio show, to liven the programme up. Linehan pretended to be a Belfast housewife, and the banter between the two attracted an unprecedented number of positive phone calls to the radio studio, many asking for a return of the women as a regular on the show.
Linehan invented the name and the character by ad libbing — the first name being that of his mother-in-law and the surname being that of an Antrim hurler by the name of Olcan McFettridge, whose exploits in a National Hurling League game had made headlines in the local newspaper, The Irish News, which happened to be beside Linehan when put on the spot.
The character became a regular on Downtown Radio. Since that time, Linehan has topped the bill as his character in the Christmas Pantomime in the Grand Opera House in Belfast for thirty consecutive years (2019/20 season).
On 2 December 2014, John was presented on stage with a bust of May McFettridge to mark his 25th consecutive year of performing at the Grand Opera House's pantomime. The bust will be kept permanently on view in the Grand Circle of the theatre opposite the bust of Frank Matcham, the architect of the building.
He/she was described by John Daly as 'the face that sank a thousand ships' during a charity event at the Odyssey in Belfast.
Linehan is also involved in charity work, appearing regularly in Northern Ireland's Children in Need broadcasts, and organising events such as golfing tournaments to help raise money for Children of the Crossfire. He was awarded the MBE in 2006 for charitable services in Northern Ireland.
William Joseph Dunlop OBE
William Joseph Dunlop OBE
Joey Dunlop was a motorcyclist from Ballymoney, Co Antrim. He married on 22 September 1972 at Ballymoney register office. He won his third hat trick at the Isle Of Man TT in 2000 and set his fastest lap on the course of 123.87 mph in the Senior race, which he finished third. The bend at 26th milestone on the Isle Of Man was named in his honour.
His achievements include three hat-tricks at the Isle of Man TT meeting (1985, 1988 and 2000), where he won a record 26 races in total. Dunlop's name is amongst the most revered by fans of motorcycle racing. This iconic stature, coupled to Dunlop's somewhat shy and unassuming persona, has led to him being seen as a true working class hero. Such attributes deeply endeared him to fans of motorcycling across the world.
During his career he won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times. In 1986, he won a fifth consecutive TT Formula One world title; initially based on one race at the Isle of Man TT after the loss of World Championship status from 1977-onwards and organised by the Auto-Cycle Union, the title was eventually expanded to take in more rounds in other countries.
He was awarded the MBE in 1986 for his services to the sport, and in 1996 he was awarded the OBE for his humanitarian work for children in Romanian orphanages, to which he had delivered clothing and food. Dunlop has featured in documentary films regarding his career: V Four Victory (1983), Joey – The Man Who Conquered the TT (2013) and Road (2014).
Dunlop helped orphans in the Balkans, driving a van loaded with supplies to orphanages in Romania, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina before the annual racing season began. In 1996, he received an OBE for his humanitarian work.
Dunlop died in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2000 while leading a 125cc race (he had already won the 750cc and 600cc events) on Pirita-Kose-Kloostrimetsa Circuit. He appeared to lose control of his bike in the wet conditions and was killed instantly on impact with trees. As a mark of respect, the Estonian government's official website was replaced with a tribute to Dunlop within hours of his death. Northern Ireland television carried live coverage of his funeral. Fifty thousand mourners, including bikers from all parts of Britain and Ireland and people from all backgrounds in Northern Ireland, attended the funeral procession to Garryduff Presbyterian church and his burial in the adjoining graveyard.
The most successful overall rider at the annual TT races is awarded the "Joey Dunlop Cup". A memorial statue was erected in his home town of Ballymoney. On the Isle of Man, a statue of Dunlop astride a Honda overlooks the Bungalow Bend at Snaefell and the 26th Milestone area of the TT course was named "Joey's". A memorial stone was installed at the crash site in Tallinn as well. Irish publishers The O'Brien Press produced a full-colour pictorial tribute to Dunlop following his death. Northern Ireland band Therapy? recorded a song in memory of Dunlop, called Joey; it appeared on the album Shameless, released in 2001.
After Dunlop's death, the Joey Dunlop Foundation was initiated, a charity that provides appropriate accommodation for disabled visitors to the Isle of Man. On 30 January 2015, Dunlop was voted Northern Ireland's greatest sports star by readers of the Belfast Telegraph newspaper.
Mary Winifred Gloria Hunniford OBE
Mary Winifred Gloria Hunniford OBE
Gloria Hunniford OBE is a Northern Irish radio and television presenter who has been enthralling her audiences since the early 1970s. Born on the 10th April 1940, her family lived in pebble-dashed two-up, two down house, with an outside loo, in Portadown.
In her younger days she went to church five times on Sunday and sang in the choir. Her father, Charles, was a member of the local Orange Lodge. Gloria used to parade with him on the 12th July.
The day before her 7th Birthday she sang at Portadown's Cloncore Orange Hall. Gloria could be heard singing in churches, schools and concert halls across the country.
Gloria started as a BBC production assistant in Belfast, and a local radio broadcaster. In the 1970s and 1980s, she was the presenter of Good Evening Ulster and on the ITV Network Sunday Sunday and We Love TV. She has also appeared on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank and on Call My Bluff.
As her career blossomed she went on to present Open House with Gloria Hunniford, the game show We Love TV and talk show Sunday, Sunday, both for ITV. She became the first woman to present a show on Radio 2 in 1985, and since 2009 she’s fronted the consumer show Rip Off Britain.
In 2014 she joined Loose Women and says of her career: ‘I am lucky to work in an industry I really enjoy. Every day I see different things and meet a huge variety of people. I learn something new every day.’
Gloria has been married to businessman Stephen Way since 1998. She had a daughter Caron and two sons with her first husband Don Keating, but sadly Blue Peter presenter Caron passed away, aged 41, from breast cancer in 2004. This inspired Gloria to create the Caron Keating Foundation, and in 2017 she was awarded an OBE for services to cancer charities.
Harry Gregg OBE
Harry Gregg OBE
Harry Gregg was one of the finest and bravest goalkeepers of his era and equally courageous away from the goalmouth. In particular he was a hero of the appalling Munich air crash of February 1958, when a plane carrying the Manchester United team back from Belgrade failed to clear the snowy runway after refuelling in Munich, killing 23 people and leaving many others with serious injuries.
Having forced his way out of the wreckage – and ignoring a general order to run for cover to avoid a possible explosion – Gregg dived back into the burning debris to pull out a number of his fellow passengers. They included Vera Lukić, the pregnant wife of a Yugoslav diplomat, and her young daughter, Vesna – as well as the United players Albert Scanlon, Ray Wood, Jackie Blanchflower, Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet, the last two of whom he had to drag away, unconscious, by their trouser waistbands. All survived, although eight players were eventually among the dead.
With Northern Ireland Harry had a rewarding time especially in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, where his glorious performances had him named as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Gregg was part of a superb Northern Ireland team in that World Cup, ably captained by Danny Blanchflower and managed by Peter Doherty.
Tall and powerfully built, Gregg, who was born in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, played 25 times for his country and 247 times for Manchester United. He had first appeared for a number of Irish clubs on either side of the border, including Dundalk, Linfield and Coleraine, while plying his trade as a joiner.
Harry passed away on the 16th February 2020, aged 87.
Patrick Barron Hopkirk MBE
Patrick Barron Hopkirk MBE
He was born in Belfast and educated at Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare from 1945–1949 before attending Trinity College, Dublin until 1953. However his academic career was held back by his dyslexia.
Hopkirk first learned the basics of car control at the age of nine, when a local clergyman left him his invalid carriage in his will. He later graduated to a motorcycle with a sidecar - which was added at the insistence of his father, who felt it would be safer - and upon attending Trinity to study engineering, acquired an Austin 7 "Chummy" Tourer which he used to make his rally debut.
Now bitten by the car bug, Hopkirk dropped out of university to start working for Dublin's Volkswagen assembler's retail operation in Ballsbridge, where he purchased a string of used Volkswagen Beetles to enter in competitions.
Hopkirk's first win came in 1953 at the Cairncastle hillclimb at the wheel of a V.W. Beetle, reg no EI 5756. He was offered a free Beetle for the 1953 Circuit Of Ireland by Isaac Agnew of Belfast. It would be the first of many Circuit entries: the following year he led the Circuit on the first day of the competition.
He started his winning career in professional racing and rally driving in 1955, taking a class win at that year's Circuit of Ireland, and clinching his first Hewison Trophy, awarded to the most successful Irish rally driver of the year: he would go on to win the Trophy for three consecutive years. By this time he had graduated to a Triumph TR2. His success in the Triumph was noticed by the Standard Motor Company, who offered Hopkirk his first factory drive in a Standard Ten at the 1956 RAC Rally in March of that year, where he took the early lead before suffering problems later on. Two months later he took a Standard Eight to third place in the Tulip Rally in the Netherlands - his first trip outside of Britain and Ireland. However he lost his drive with Standard in 1958, after overdriving his car at the Alpine Rally in an effort to make up time lost due to a puncture on the Stelvio Pass, damaging the engine and forcing him to retire from the competition.
The following year he joined the Rootes Group as a works driver, initially picking up a drive in a Hillman Husky at the Safari Rally after reigning F1 World Champion Mike Hawthorn, who was originally meant to drive the car, was killed in a road accident. Later that year he placed third overall and took a class win at the Alpine Rally in a Sunbeam Rapier, and he led the 1960 Safari Rally until his Rapier suffered a differential failure. He took two Circuit of Ireland wins in 1961 and 1962 and another third at the Alpine Rally in 1961. Whilst at Rootes Hopkirk also took part in circuit racing, winning his class in a Rapier in the touring car race supporting the 1960 British Grand Prix.
He finished third at the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally in a Sunbeam Rapier. However, Hopkirk was becoming frustrated by the Rapier's lack of reliability, culminating in all three works cars blowing their engines within the space of a kilometre at that year's Acropolis Rally. After being impressed by a test drive of Pat Moss' Austin-Healey 3000, he set his mind on a move, joining the British Motor Corporation and making his debut in a 3000 at the Liège-Sofia-Liège rally in August. In his second competition with the 3000, the RAC Rally, he finished in second despite having to complete two miles of a special stage with a shredded tyre after a puncture. He first competed in a Mini at the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally, where he finished sixth. That season he also finished second on the Tulip Rally, sixth on Liège-Sofia-Liège, and fourth on the RAC Rally. In addition he took the Mini to third place in the Tour de France Automobile's Touring Category behind two 3.8 litre Jaguars, winning his class and the overall on handicap.
Alongside Henry Liddon he won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S car number 37, with the registration number 33 EJB. They are the most recent all-British crew to have won the event. He also led BMC to the team win, with fellow Mini drivers Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen pacing fourth and seventh. The victory made Hopkirk a household name: he received telegrams from the then UK Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home and the Beatles, was given the Freedom of the City of Belfast, and appeared along with his Mini on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. He went on to steer an Austin-Healey to victory at his next international rally, the Österreichische Alpenfahrt, later that year.
Hopkirk also travelled to Australia during his career to drive for the BMC Works Team in the annual Bathurst 500 race for standard production cars at the Mount Panorama Circuit. He drove at Bathurst in a Morris Cooper S from 1965–1967, obtaining a best result of 6th outright and 3rd in class in the 1965 Armstrong 500 when paired with another great rally driver, Timo Mäkinen of Finland. In 1965, he won a Coupe d'Argent at the Alpine Rally. He won the 1965 and 1967 Circuit of Ireland Rally, the 1966 and 1967 Alpine Rally, and the 1967 Rally Acropolis.
Hopkirk was elected as a life member of the British Racing Drivers' Club in 1967, and is also president of the Historic Rally Car Register, and a patron of disability charity WheelPower.
In 1968, at the London-Sydney Marathon, Hopkirk gallantly gave up any chance of victory on the penultimate stage to rescue the Bianchi-Ogier team then in the lead, whose Citroën DS had just collided head-on with another car on a road supposedly closed to traffic. Hopkirk and his teammate Tony Nash managed to pull out occupants from both cars that were starting to burn, probably saving the life of severely wounded Lucien Bianchi in the process. The accident happened just ahead of Hopkirk's Austin 1800. By driving back to warn onlookers and the police, Hopkirk and Nash likely also prevented another crash with any incoming participants. Hopkirk's crew went on to complete the rally in second, behind Andrew Cowan's Hillman Hunter.
That same year he finished second at the second edition of the Rally de Portugal. The following year, he finished second of the Circuit of Ireland and the RAC Rally, then 4th at the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally with teammates Tom Nash and Neville Johnston in a Triumph 2.5 PI. Hopkirk elected to step away from full-time competition at the end of that year, coinciding with British Leyland head Lord Stokes' decision to close down BL's competition department.
In 1977, with co-driver Taylor Mike, he took part once again in a revived edition of the London-Sydney Marathon, the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney Rally, this time driving a Citroën CX 2400, taking 3rd place overall in front of another CX driven by Claude Laurent and Jean-Claude Ogier... who had been rescued by Hopkirk and Nash in 1968.
In 1982, he won the RAC Golden 50, a historical anniversary race celebrating the 50th RAC Rally, with co-driver Brian Culcheth in the Mini Cooper with which Timo Mäkinen had won the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally. In 1990, he won the Pirelli Classic Marathon with co-driver Alec Poole. In 1994, he entered the Monte Carlo Rally again, driving a current Mini Cooper, very similar to the original car, but now produced by Rover Group, whose 1275cc engine was tuned to deliver 104 bhp  and with a registration number almost identical to the victorious 1964 Mini (L33 EJB): thirty years after his famous win, Hopkirk and his co-pilot Ron Crellin finished the race at an incredible 60th place against much more modern and powerful machines.
In 2010, he was among the first four inductees into the Rally Hall of Fame, along with Mäkinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Erik Carlsson.
He married his wife Jennifer in 1967: they have three children Katie, Patrick and William with 6 grandchildren Molly, Jessica, Fenella, Amalia, Allegra and Alexander. His wife was High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 2005 and Vice Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire 2006-2011.
Paddy Hopkirk is a brand of automotive accessories (for example, roof bars) named after Hopkirk. He had been involved in the automotive trade from his early days in rallying: by the early 1970s he was involved importing Toyotas into Northern Ireland. His car accessories business was sold in the 1990s, and he subsequently set up a marketing firm, Hopkirks Ltd. He is also a consultant to BMW for their revived Mini.
Outside of his business interests, Hopkirk is a keen supporter of WheelPower, a charity promoting wheelchair sport and a vice-president of the British Racing Drivers' Club.
Lady Mary Elizabeth Peters
LG, CH, DBE, DStJ
Lady Mary Elizabeth Peters
LG, CH, DBE, DStJ
Mary was born in Halewood, Lancashire, but moved to Ballymena (and later Belfast) at age eleven when her father's job was relocated to Northern Ireland.
In the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Mary competing for Great Britain and Northern Ireland won the gold medal in the women's pentathlon. She had finished 4th in 1964 and 9th in 1968. To win the gold medal, she narrowly beat the local favourite, West Germany's Heide Rosendahl, by 10 points, setting a world record score.
She represented Northern Ireland at every Commonwealth Games between 1958 and 1974. In these games she won 2 gold medals for the pentathlon, plus a gold and silver medal for the shot put.
Mary was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to athletics in the 1973 New Year Honours. For services to sport, she was promoted in the same Order to Commander (CBE) in the 1990 Birthday Honours and again to Dame Commander (DBE) in the 2000 Birthday Honours. In the 2015 New Year Honours, she was awarded as Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH), also for services to sport and the community in Northern Ireland, and in 2017, she was made a Dame of the Order of Saint John (DStJ). Mary was appointed a Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter (LG) on 27 February 2019.
Northern Ireland's premier athletics track, on the outskirts of Belfast, is named after her and a statue of her stands within it.
Mary established a charitable Sports Trust in 1975 to support talented young sportsmen and women, both able-bodied and disabled, from across Northern Ireland.
The Trust now known as the Mary Peters Trust, helps aspiring young athletes realise their maximum potential by assisting them in both a financial and advisory capacity.
Since its inception more than 40 years ago, the Mary Peters Trust has made a staggering number of Awards making a difference to the lives of thousands of young athletes from across Northern Ireland.
Liam John Neeson OBE
Liam John Neeson OBE
Liam Neeson is an actor from Northern Ireland. He has been nominated for several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. He is one of the highest grossing actors of all time.
Liam John Neeson was born in Ballymena on 7th June 1952, the son of Katherine "Kitty" Neeson (née Brown), a cook, and Bernard "Barney" Neeson, a caretaker at the Ballymena Boys All Saints Primary School. Raised Roman Catholic, he was named Liam after the local priest. The third of four siblings, he has three sisters: Elizabeth, Bernadette, and Rosaleen. Neeson attended the town's predominantly Protestant technical college.
Neeson has described himself as out of touch with the politics and history of Northern Ireland until becoming aware of protests by fellow students after Bloody Sunday in 1972, during the Troubles. That experience encouraged him to learn more local history. In a 2009 interview, Neeson said, "I never stop thinking about it [the Troubles]. I've known guys and girls who have been perpetrators of violence and victims. Protestants and Catholics. It's part of my DNA."
At age nine, Neeson began boxing lessons at the All Saints Youth Club, going on to win a number of regional titles before
discontinuing at age 17. He acted in school productions during his teens. Neeson's interest in acting and decision to become an actor were also influenced by Ian Paisley, founder of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), into whose Free Presbyterian Church Neeson would sneak. Neeson has said of Paisley, "He had a magnificent presence and it was incredible to watch him just Bible-thumping away... it was acting, but it was also great acting and stirring too." In 1971, Neeson was enrolled as a physics and computer science student at Queen's University Belfast, before leaving to work for the Guinness Brewery. At Queen's, he discovered a talent for football and was spotted by Seán Thomas at Bohemian FC. There was a club trial in Dublin, and Neeson played one game as a substitute against Shamrock Rovers FC but was not offered a contract.
After leaving university, Neeson returned to Ballymena, where he worked in a variety of casual jobs, from a forklift operator at Guinness to a truck driver. He also attended teacher training college for two years in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, before again returning to his hometown. In 1976, Neeson joined the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast, where he performed for two years. He got his first film experience in 1977, playing Jesus Christ and Evangelist in the religious film Pilgrim's Progress (1978). Neeson moved to Dublin in 1978 after he was offered a part in Ron Hutchinson's Says I, Says He, a drama about The Troubles, at the Project Arts Centre. He acted in several other Project productions and joined the Abbey Theatre (the National Theatre of Ireland). In 1980, he performed alongside Stephen Rea, Ray McAnally and Mick Lally, playing Doalty in Brian Friel's play Translations, the first production of Friel's and Rea's Field Day Theatre Company, first presented in the Guildhall, Londonderry, on 23rd September 1980.
In 1980, filmmaker John Boorman saw him on stage as Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men and offered him the role of Sir Gawain in the Arthurian film Excalibur. After Excalibur, Neeson moved to London, where he continued working on stage, in small budget films and in television. He lived with the actress Helen Mirren at this time, whom he met working on Excalibur. Between 1982 and 1987, Neeson starred in five films, most notably alongside Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in 1984's The Bounty and Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons in 1986's The Mission. Neeson guest-starred in the third season of the television series Miami Vice in 1986 and moved to Hollywood to star in more high-profile roles in the next year. That year, he starred alongside Cher and Dennis Quaid in Suspect, a role that brought him critical acclaim. In 1988, he starred alongside Clint Eastwood in the fifth Dirty Harry film, "The Dead Pool", in the role of Peter Swan, a horror film director. In 1990, he followed this with a starring role in Sam Raimi's Darkman. Although the film was successful, Neeson's subsequent years did not bring him the same recognition. In 1993, he joined Ellis Island co-star and future wife Natasha Richardson in the Broadway play Anna Christie. They also worked together in Nell, released the following year.
Neeson would go on to appear in various Hollywood blockbusters including Schindler's List, Rob Roy, Michael Collins, Star Wars, Taken. His voice has also been used in various documentaries and films.
Neeson holds British, Irish and American citizenship, having been naturalised as an American citizen in 2009. In 2009, nearly four decades after he was an undergraduate in physics and computer science at Queen's University, Belfast, Neeson was awarded an honorary doctorate. It was presented to him in New York by Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson. In March 2011, he was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Neeson is a patron of Belfast-based charity and film festival CineMagic, which encourages and helps young people to get involved in the movie industry.
Neeson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in her 2000 New Year Honours.
On the 28th January 2013, Neeson received the Freedom of the Borough from Ballymena Borough Council at a ceremony in the town.
Bethany Firth MBE
Bethany Firth MBE
Swimming sensation Bethany Firth was Northern Ireland’s hero of the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
The Seaforde, County Down girl became Britain's most decorated athlete in Rio, bringing home three gold medals and one silver, clocking up two world and a Paralympic record in the process.
The 20-year-old won gold in the 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Silver came in the 100m breaststroke.
Firth, who competes in the S14 classes for competitors with an intellectual impairment, became the only the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single games. No male Paralympian has ever achieved this distinction.
Bethany Firth was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to swimming.
Liam Beckett MBE
Liam Beckett MBE
Liam Beckett MBE was born in Ballymoney. A Plumber by trade, his passion has always been football and motorcycle road racing.
Liam had the skill to indulge his passion for football and played many years at Irish League level for Crusaders and Coleraine as well as Drogheda in the League of Ireland going on to win every honour at Senior level in the Irish League before furthering his career in football this time in management at Cliftonville and Institute.
Liam’s other sporting passion is motorcycle road racing and in 1988 he became the late Robert Dunlop’s motorcycle road race mechanic and mentor. Liam documented this extraordinary partnership with Robert by writing an auto biography called “Full Throttle”, a follow up second book called “Old School” was released in November 2019.
Still very much involved with sport Liam is currently a Sunday Life sports columnist and BBC Radio Ulster sports commentator. Even though Liam leads a very busy life he still finds time to do a lot of work for charity and is involved with a number of local charities. He is a patron of the Harry Gregg Foundation, CAN Compass Advocacy Network and he is also an ambassador for The Samaritans not to mention his annual Black Santa Cross Community Christmas charity sit out collection which he has been doing for the last 12 years.
Liam was awarded an MBE in the Queens New Years Honours List for services to sport and the voluntary sector and received his decoration at Buckingham Palace in March 2018.
Zöe Salmon is a television presenter from Northern Ireland who hosted the children's television programme Blue Peter from 23rd December 2004 to 25th June 2008. She also appeared on Dancing on Ice in early 2009. She was the 1999 Miss Northern Ireland.
Zöe was born in Bangor, County Down. She attended Kilmaine Primary School and Glenlola Collegiate School. She then attended Queen's University, Belfast, where she gained a 2:1 degree in law, before qualifying as a solicitor. She was crowned Miss Northern Ireland in 1999 (beating future Big Brother contestant Orlaith McAllister). In 2009 she was placed at number 20 on FHM's 100 sexiest women.
Zöe was revealed as the 30th Blue Peter presenter on 25th October 2004. She first appeared on the show on 23rd December 2004, in its Christmas special. She was originally meant to replace Liz Barker when the latter left on maternity leave; however, Barker had already returned by the time Salmon made her debut. She presented the show with Konnie Huq, Simon Thomas, Matt Baker, Liz Barker, Gethin Jones and Andy Akinwolere.
Shortly after her debut, she said "I'd Try Anything Once", which started a trend in her being asked to do dangerous or embarrassing things including wing-walking on top of an antique biplane and stamp collecting. When she mentioned in her blog on the Blue Peter website that she had an ambition to be sawn in half by a magician, viewers started a campaign for her to do a challenge where she would become a magician's assistant. This campaign was successful, and Salmon filmed a challenge where she assisted a magician with a number of illusions including levitation and a transposition illusion called "The Assistants Revenge". After the filmed segment of the challenge had been shown, the magician joined Salmon in the studio for a live performance of the sawing in half illusion, in which Salmon was sawn in half inside a clear-sided box in a version of the illusion called "Clearly Impossible".
In 2006 she made an item for the show about the making of the film St Trinians. She played a small role in the film, as a non-speaking extra.
Zöe left the show in June 2008 at the start of the summer break, at the same time as Gethin Jones.
One of her earliest roles was a quick appearance as the original bearer of the Ruby Slippers in a little known re-telling of the Wizard of Oz in 1995.
In 2005, Zöe presented the results of the Northern Ireland region in Making Your Mind Up, the UK's national pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2005. She welcomed the television audience to Belfast with the line "How's about you, Terry?"
Zöe appeared in the 2007 version of Comic Relief Does Fame Academy, with several celebrity opponents, including BBC Sport presenter and journalist Ray Stubbs, former CBBC presenter Angellica Bell and BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Colin Murray. Zöe was the fifth celebrity voted out. Also in 2007, she switched on the Belfast Christmas lights with Shayne Ward.
After leaving Blue Peter in June 2008, she presented the gameshow Hot Rods which began a BBC2 run on 30 August. She joined Noel Edmonds and Same Difference as a guest at a kids' party at the Northumberland town of Morpeth which featured in 2008's Noel's Christmas Presents show on Sky1.
Zöe took part in the fourth series of Dancing on Ice, partnering Matt Evers and reached the quarter-finals. Zöe appeared on The Chris Moyles Show in January 2009 and went on a date with early breakfast presenter Greg James as part of the BBC Radio 1 money experiment.
She appeared on the first episode of BBC One Saturday night gameshow Hole in the Wall hosted by Dale Winton. Zöe has a cameo in the CBBC sitcom Dani's House, as Dani's long lost celebrity friend 'Mo White'. In May 2009 she appeared in FHM magazine with another Blue Peter ex-presenter Konnie Huq. Two separate collectable covers were printed for the issue featuring the two women, but the content of the magazines were identical.
In 2009 she appeared on Shooting Stars on Jack Dee's team.
In 2009 she presented 8-part series Skillicious on CITV alongside Nigel Clarke. The show encouraged children to try out new skills. She loved beatboxing. She co-presented the World's Strongest Man competition in the UK with Martin Bayfield and became one of the presenters on new Sky1 live lifestyle chat show Angela and Friends.
On 15 February 2011 she presented a programme for BBC Three called The Big Fat Truth About Low Fat Foods in which she underwent an experiment whereby she agreed to be filmed during a month of eating a diet consisting of only diet and 'healthy' pre-processed foods.
On 31st October 2011, Zöe hosted "Celebrity Wish List" on Channel 5 where she surprised 500 Scottish Young Carers at their annual weekend break by bringing McFly to perform for them and putting together a film to help the Carers secure funding for future events.
In 2011 she also co-hosted Compete for the Meat alongside Al Murray on Dave.
In 2006, Salmon ran the London Marathon and gave the money to the registered charity ChildLine.
Rory McIlroy MBE
Rory McIlroy MBE
Rory McIlroy MBE was born on 4th May 1989 is a professional golfer from Holywood, County Down, who is a member of both the European and PGA Tours.
He is currently world number six in the Official World Golf Ranking, having spent over 100 weeks in the number one position during his career.
He is a four-time major champion, winning the 2011 U.S Open, 2012 PGA Championship, 2014 Open Championship, and 2014 PGA Championship. Along with Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth, he is one of four players to win three majors by the age of 25.
McIlroy is an Ambassador for UNICEF and made his first visit to Haitiwith UNICEF in June 2011.
McIlroy was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to sport.
Peter Dickson (born 23 June 1957) is a voice-over artist from Northern Ireland. He is best known as the brand voice of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent and also as the voice of television channel E4. His other work includes Ireland's Got Talent, The Price Is Right, Family Fortunes and All Star Mr & Mrs.
Dickson was educated at the Belfast Royal Academy in his home city of Belfast, Northern Ireland. He later graduated with a BA Hons degree in psychology from Queens University, while there he was a member of the University Air Squadron where he flew the Bulldog. He was a reporter and journalist at the BBC later moving to the presentation department at Radio Ulster. From there he moved on to BBC Radio 2 as a newsreader and announcer, also presenting overnight shows and his own comedy-based Friday show Peter Dickson's Nightcap.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Dickson worked alongside Steve Wright on his Radio 1 afternoon and morning shows. He created, wrote and voiced many household name characters for Wright's award-winning programmes. In 1990, he launched Melody Radio in London, where he presented the breakfast show for three years. He has contributed to two series of Quote Unquote for BBC Radio 4, and has read the morning story on BBC Radio 4.
Playwright Dennis Potter invited Dickson to play cameo parts in several of his TV dramas. More television beckoned with Harry Enfield in his award-winning Tiger Aspect series Harry Enfield and Chums. Various on screen character roles followed in the first two series of Steve Wright People's Show for BBC One. Bruce Forsyth called Dickson to voice the famous "Come on Downs" and prize descriptions for seven series of ITV's Bruce's Price is Right and he was on board for Family Fortunes starring Les Dennis, and Patrick Kielty's Channel 4's Last Chance Lottery Live. He provided the commentaries for the world record attempts on Sky 1's Guinness World Records Smashed in 2009. He has also contributed to 11 series of the award-winning BBC One panel game They Think It's All Over presented by Nick Hancock, Catchphrase, TV's Naughtiest Blunders and Safe for ITV and the cult animation series Monkey Dust for BBC in which he famously played himself.
His other TV credits include Never Mind The Buzzcocks, roles in Holby City, Noel's House Party and Live & Kicking, The 10%'ers and The Unknown Soldier for Carlton TV. He has featured on Griff Rhys Jones' Crystal Balls, Tales from FEAR for Cartoon Network, Sing It Your Way with Denise Van Outen and Ian Wright, and ITV's Year of Promise with Carol Vorderman.
Dickson has written for the BBC Two comedy series The Fast Show and Play Your Cards Right for ITV.
He worked on Jerry Springer's ITV Friday night hit programme, and his subsequent Late Night With Jerry Springer for Five which ran for two series.
He was the voice of the BBC's Test the Nation live specials and has featured in Little Britain, The Paul O'Grady Show on ITV and the New Paul O'Grady Show on Channel 4. He provided the live commentary for Cirque de Celebrite and introduced An Audience with Joe Pasquale, and voiced a Westlife special on ITV.
In 2006, Dickson became the brand voice of youth channel E4.
In 2011 and in 2012 he was the host of MTV's three big end-of-year video chart shows.
In 2012 he was the official voice of Olympic Beach Volleyball at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Since 1998 Dickson has worked closely with the Discovery Channel, narrating over 250 documentaries, including the 25 part The FBI Files. He has completed over 150 other documentary series for BBC Television, National Geographic Channel, Wall to Wall TV, The History Channel, Outline Productions, Adrenaline TV, Café Productions, Discovery Health, Flat Earth Films. For British Movietone. He narrated the 13 part series World War 2: The Complete History, and the 50 part Millennium Minute.
Beyond his earlier radio work, Dickson's voice is heard daily on many commercial radio stations across the UK. He has voiced many campaigns from Dominos, Moneysupermarket, British Gas, Downton Abbey, The Sun, Branston Pickle, to Walls, "Drink Drive" and "Euro Millions", Dairylea, Schweppes, KFC, Heinz and Wrigleys. He has voiced over 30,000 radio and TV campaigns. He was the brand voice for Irish radio stations I 102–104 and 4FM. He was the brand voice of The Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio. He makes appearances on BBC Radio 1's breakfast and drive time shows.He played various character roles in The Department, a comedy series on BBC Radio 4 starring and written by Chris Addison, John Oliver, and Andy Zaltzman.
In March 2009, Dickson released a UK single as 'Voiceover Man and The Credit Crunchers' called "What a Bunch of Bankers".
John McClelland is a former Northern Ireland international footballer who played for several teams during a 23-year career. He worked for Leeds United as part of the tour groups for Elland Road.
McClelland played for Portadown, Cardiff City, Bangor City (he was Welsh Cup runner up with both of these clubs), and Mansfield Town, before signing for Rangers for £90,000 in June 1981. There he won two Scottish League Cup winner's medals, and was twice a Scottish Cup runner up.
In November 1984 Watford paid £225,000 for his services. During his five years at Vicarage Road he was voted Watford Player of the Season twice. He later played for Leeds United, where he played 18 times as Leeds won the Football League First Division title in the 1991–92 season, the last season before the formation of the Premier League. During his time at Leeds he spent time on loan at old club Watford and Notts County.
In his later career he spent a season at St Johnstone as player manager, had a brief spell in the Irish League with Carrick Rangers, before playing for Arbroath, Wycombe Wanderers, Yeovil Town and Darlington. By the time he retired he had played in every country in the United Kingdom and in every tier of English football.
At international level McClelland was also successful. He played for Northern Ireland at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. He eventually won 53 caps, scoring one goal in a win over Turkey. He was also captain of Northern Ireland from after the 1986 World Cup until his retirement in 1990.
He was player-manager at St Johnstone in the early 1990s. For a brief time after retirement McClelland could be found working at Leeds United taking tour groups around Elland Road. He is now a Postman in the Wakefield area.
David Anthony McAuley MBE
David Anthony McAuley, MBE
Dave Boy McAuley is a former professional boxer from Larne who competed from 1983 to 1992. He held the IBF flyweight title from 1989 to 1992, and challenged twice for the WBA flyweight title in 1987 and 1988. At regional level, he held the British flyweight title in 1986.
McAuley fought under the name Dave "Boy" McAuley, and was one of the last boxers to fight for a world title over 15 rounds. His two epic fights against Fidel Bassa were both voted "Fight of the Year", in 1986 and 1987 respectively. He defeated Duke McKenzie for the IBF title. He defended his recognised IBF World Title and became the most successful fighter from Northern Ireland post-war with a recognised IBF World Title.
Among his most famous bouts were two brutal encounters with Colombian Fidel Bassa at Belfast's King's Hall. In 1989 McAuley won the IBF title from Duke McKenzie. He successfully defended his title five times, eventually losing it to Rodolfo Blanco in 1992, whom he had beaten two years previously.
McAuley was unusual for a flyweight in that he was extremely tall for someone in the flyweight division, standing at 5'7". He was one of Ireland's most under-rated boxers, and was poorly treated by various promoters and media after his loss to Blanco.
McAuley was almost tempted out of retirement on more than one occasion, right up to the mid-1990s. He was rumoured to be training for a comeback fight with Prince Naseem Hamed in 1994, but the bout eventually fell through over contractual issues.
McAuley runs a hotel in Ballygalley, near Larne, County Antrim.
Jimmy Kirkwood is a former field hockey player from Northern Ireland who represented both Ireland and Great Britain at international level.
He represented Great Britain at the 1988 Summer Olympics when they won the gold medal. He also represented Ireland at the 1990 Men's Hockey World Cup. Kirkwood was also an Ireland cricket international.
Kirkwood was educated at Friends' School, Lisburn and Queen's University Belfast where he studied Economics. In his youth, in addition to playing field hockey and cricket, Kirkwood also included played rugby union, playing for Friends' School, Lisburn in the Ulster Schools' Cup.
At senior club level, Kirkwood played for Queen's University, Belfast YMCA and Lisnagarvey. During his club career he won ten Irish Senior Cup winners medals. He won his first with Queen's in 1981 and his second with Belfast YMCA in 1985. Then between 1987–88 and 1993–94 he was an ever-present in the Lisnagarvey team that won the cup for seven successive seasons. He won his tenth medal when Lisnagarvey won the cup in 1996–97.
Kirkwood was a member of the Ireland team that were silver medallists at the 1978 EuroHockey Junior Championship. Other members of the team included Martin Sloan, Billy McConnell and Stephen Martin. He made his senior debut for Ireland at the age of 18 in 1981. He subsequently represented Ireland at the 1987, 1991 and 1995 Men's EuroHockey Nations Championships. He also represented Ireland at the 1990 Men's Hockey World Cup. During the latter tournament, during a match against Canada, Kirkwood sustained a horrific injury when he felt the full force of an opponents stick in his face. He was taken to hospital and missed the rest of the tournament. In 2014 Kirkwood was inducted into the Irish Hockey Association Hall of Fame.
Kirkwood made his debut for Great Britain at the 1987 Men's Hockey Champions Trophy tournament. He subsequently represented Great Britain at the 1988 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal.
Kirkwood began playing for Lisburn Cricket Club as a schoolboy. In 1985 his man of the match performance helped the club win the NCU Challenge Cup, defeating NICC in the final. He also represented Ulster Country at senior interprovincial level.
Kirkwood represented Ireland at schoolboy, under-19 and under-23 levels before making his senior international debut on 17 August 1983 against Gloucestershire. During the same tour, Kirkwood also featured in matches against Wales and the MCC. Kirkwood made 27 runs at an average of 8.6, with his high score of 27 coming against Gloucestershire.
Marissa Callaghan is a women's association football player Northern Ireland. She currently plays as a player-coach as a midfielder for Cliftonville Ladies and is the captain of the Northern Ireland women's national football team.
Callaghan started playing football when she was thirteen for Newington Girls (now known as Cliftonville Ladies). After this, she went to university in the United States on a football scholarship. She returned to Northern Ireland in 2005 and started playing for Cliftonville again. She graduated with an advanced certificate in sports coaching from the University of Ulster in 2017. As a result, she also volunteered as a coach for Cliftonville Ladies. Later she became their academy director.
Callaghan made her international debut for the Northern Ireland women's national under-19 football team in 2002. She made her debut for Northern Ireland in 2010. In 2016, Callaghan was awarded the Northern Ireland Women's Football Association Women's Personality of the Year award. A year later she was the tournament ambassador for the 2017 UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship being held in Northern Ireland.
After leaving university, Callaghan started working full-time in 2010 as a women's football community coach. In 2016, Callaghan was selected as a women's football ambassador for the Irish Football Association. Following this, she worked with Northern Ireland national football team captain Steven Davis to promote participation in women's youth football.
Rory Best OBE
Rory Best OBE
Rugby Union Player
Rory David Best OBE is a former rugby union player from Northern Ireland and was the captain of the Ireland national team from 2016 to 2019.
Best was raised in Poyntzpass, County Armagh. His mother is English, from Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. He was educated at Tandragee Junior High School, Portadown College. He then studied Agriculture at The University of Newcastle.
Best returned home to join Belfast Harlequins in 2002 where he captained the team and gained his first Ulster contract in 2004. He made his debut for Ulster as a replacement at home to Munster in the 2005 Celtic League. He replaced his brother (now retired Ireland and Ulster prop Simon) as Ulster captain for the 2007/08 season and continues to hold the position. He is renowned for his abilities as a scrummager. Best missed the entire 2009/10 season due to surgery on a chronic disc problem. Best scored two tries in 2011/12 and 2010/11 for Ulster. He was part of the Ulster side that was defeated by Leinster in The Heineken Cup final in 2012.
Best made his international debut for Ireland as a replacement against the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road in November 2005 and made his first start against the Springboks in 2006. He has been involved with the national team ever since, initially sharing the number 2 shirt with Jerry Flannery. He was a member of the Irish teams that won the 2007 Triple Crown and was in the Irish squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup as well as the 2009 Six Nations Championship which completed the Grand Slam.
He captained the Ireland team that toured North America in 2009, while many of his Ireland teammates were on the British and Irish Lions team that began their tour of South Africa at the same time. He became the first-choice hooker at the 2011 Rugby World Cup after an injury to Jerry Flannery. Best also played his 50th test for Ireland during the World Cup, scoring a try as Ireland beat the United States during the pool stages.
He was chosen to captain Ireland again, during the 2012 Six Nations Championship, after Paul O'Connell was injured.
Best played his 200th game for Ulster in the Pro14 in 2017, earning the honour against Leinster.
Best was added to the British and Irish Lions squad for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia on 26 May after English hooker Dylan Hartley was removed from the squad after receiving a red card in the Aviva Premiership final for abuse of an official on 25 May 2013. In 2014 Best won his 2nd Six Nations title.
In January 2016, Best was named as the new Ireland captain for the 2016 Six Nations Championship. On November 26, 2016, Best became Ireland's fifth centurion, gaining his 100th cap in a test match vs Australia in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. The previous week, Best captained Ireland to a historic 40-29 win over New Zealand in his 99th appearance, Ireland's first ever win over New Zealand.
After finishing the 2017 Six Nations, Best was selected for the British and Irish Lions for the second time, on the 2017 tour to New Zealand. Best started in four of the five matches he played on tour, captaining the Lions to a 34-6 win over the Chiefs and a 31-31 draw against the Hurricanes. Best was not subbed off in either of those matches, and received an OBE while he was on tour with the Lions.
Best continued as captain for Ireland for the 2018 Six Nations Championship, leading the team to a historic third Grand Slam and Triple Crown, as well as winning the tournament, by defeating England at Twickenham Stadium on St Patrick's Day.
Although Best missed the mid-year test series against Australia's Wallabies, with Peter O'Mahony captaining Ireland in his place, Best returned for the 2018 end-of-year rugby union internationals. Best cemented his place as one of the most successful captains in Irish rugby history during the end of 2018, leading Ireland out against New Zealand on the 17 November 2018. Ireland beat New Zealand by 16-9, winning their ninth test in a single year.
On 18 April 2019, Best announced that he would retire from professional rugby after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. "It is with mixed feelings that I announce my retirement from Ulster Rugby as of the end of this season," said Best. "This feels like the right time for me to go out on my terms, a luxury for which I feel very privileged,".
His final test for Ireland was on 19 October 2019, when Ireland lost to New Zealand, 14-46 in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which was also Best's fourth World Cup tournament. Best was replaced by Niall Scannell in the 63rd minute of the test, receiving a deserved standing ovation from the crowd as he departed the field. His achievements across his career earned his subsequent praise from All Blacks Captain, Kieran Read.
He is the only Irish captain to have a win over Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, he is one of a few captains to achieve this.
Best played his last game professional rugby match with the Barbarians, on 16 November 2019, captaining the team with the Flying Fijians claiming the Killic Cup 33-31.
Best was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to rugby.
Eileen Percy was an actress of the silent film era from Northern Ireland. She appeared in 68 films between 1917 and 1933.
Born in Belfast in 1900, Percy lived in Brooklyn, New York, briefly in 1903 before returning to Belfast. She came back to Brooklyn at age nine, entering a convent there. After graduating from the convent, she became a model for artists, including Charles Dana Gibson. Some of the pictures for which she posed were used for magazine covers.
She got an early start in films when she landed the role of Ethel Forsythe in 1917's Down to Earth (1917). She was barely 17 years old. Eileen was kept busy as the twenties rolled in with roles in The Third Eye (1920), Why Trust Your Husband (1921), Let's Go (1923), and Tongues of Flame (1924). (Her sister Thelma, briefly, appeared in four films in 1920 and 1921). Eileen was one of those stars whose voice didn't translate well into sound. She made only a few sound pictures with a bit part in The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood (1932).
After her film career ended, Percy became a staff correspondent for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In 1919, Percy married Ulrich Busch. They divorced in 1930. Her second husband from 1936 was songwriter Harry Ruby.
She died in Los Angeles, California, in 1973. Her remains are buried at Chapel of the Pines Crematory.
Hugh Francis "Frank" Carson KSG
Hugh Francis "Frank" Carson KSG
Frank Carson was a comedian and actor from Northern Ireland best known on television in series such as The Comedians and Tiswas. He was a member of the entertainment charity the Grand Order of Water Rats.
One of six children of a working-class family who lived in the dockland district of Sailortown, Frank Carson was born at 18 Great Georges Street, Belfast, where he attended St Patrick's Elementary School and worked as an electrician, and later plasterer, in the building trade.
Carson's family were of Italian descent, with his grandmother hailing from Sicily. He grew up in what was then the "Little Italy" area of Belfast, and was once a choirboy at St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street.
Carson spent three years in the British Army's Parachute Regiment, mainly in the Middle East in the late 1940s. On one occasion he was shot in the leg and on another occasion narrowly escaped death when a bomb went off outside a cinema. The seven RAF men he was with were all killed. He also assisted with the clear up after the King David Hotel bombing in Jerusalem and made 40 parachute descents.
Carson became a popular performer on television in Northern Ireland, before moving to England to work as a stand-up club comedian. He had success on the long-running television music-hall revival show, The Good Old Days. He then went on to win the peak-viewing national favourite talent show Opportunity Knocks, presented by Hughie Green, three times. He was one of the more prominent acts on The Comedians alongside the likes of Charlie Williams, Bernard Manning, Mike Reid and Jim Bowen. The show consisted of 30 minutes of non-stop stand-up comedy from several comedians in each show, became a ratings hit in the United Kingdom and helped establish Carson's performing career.
Granada Television's The Comedians led to similar shows, such as The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, which was an attempt to bring the northern English working man's club show to television. Carson was a regular on television for a number of years after The Comedians, whilst also working as a stage entertainer and appearing before the Royal Family in shows. He is known for two catchphrases in live performances: "It's a cracker!" and "It's the way I tell 'em!". In 1975, Carson took the part of Paddy O'Brien, described as "an Irish Republican landlord and coalman", in The Melting Pot, a sitcom written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand, which was cancelled by the BBC after just one episode had been broadcast. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1985 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Heathrow Airport.
When he had heart surgery in 1976 it was suggested this meant he would retire. However, he continued working and became a regular on the ATV children's series Tiswas. He began making acting appearances on television as well as in two cinema films in the 1990s. In 1998, he was the opening act for Mary Black's musical concert at the English Village in Dubai.
Carson was still working, making live appearances, in cabaret, pantomime and the summer season throughout the UK. He spent much of his time helping the needy which included raising £130,000 for the Royal Victoria Hospital Children's Cancer Ward in 1986. He was also a supporter of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).
In 1987 his dedication to charity was recognised by the Roman Catholic Church when he was awarded a papal knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory by Pope John Paul II.
On 2 September 2009, aged 82, Carson returned to the stage appearing at the North Pier Theatre midweek season run of The Comedians in Blackpool, where he lived. On 30 October 2009, he appeared at the Velvet Hall in Paphos, Cyprus.
In 2009 Carson took part in the TV show Cash in the Celebrity Attic to raise money for a local hospice, raising over £900 in the process. Carson lived for many years in Balbriggan in north County Dublin, and served two terms as mayor of the town.
Carson died on 22 February 2012, aged 85, at his Blackpool home. He was survived by his wife, Ruth, whom he married on 21 January 1950 and who died in 2015, aged 87, his daughter Majella, and his sons Tony and Aidan, in addition to numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His funeral was held on 3 March 2012 at St Patrick's Church, Donegall Street, Belfast, where he had married his wife Ruth over 60 years earlier.
Michael Andrew Martin O'Neill MBE
Michael Andrew Martin O'Neill MBE
Michael O'Neill is a football manager and former professional footballer from Northern Ireland who is the manager of EFL Championship club Stoke City.
O'Neill was born in Portadown, County Armagh, to parents Dessie and Patricia O'Neill. His father, Dessie played hurling for All Saints and Ulster whilst his brother Sean, was a track athlete who competed in the Men's 800 metres at the 1982 Commonwealth Games.
He briefly attended Presentation Convent Primary School before the family moved to Ballymena, County Antrim. In Ballymena he attended All Saints Primary School and later St Louis Grammar School, where he won the Northern Ireland Schools FA Cup in 1980 against St Oliver Plunkett whose side included Jim Magilton. He was also a promising Gaelic games player, representing Antrim GAA minors, before concentrating on football. He played youth football for Ballymena team Star United for four years before joining intermediate club Chimney Corner as a 14-year-old. His manager Alec McKee didn’t think it was right to try to integrate a 14/15-year-old into his first team and thought he should play for Coleraine's reserve side.
O'Neill was brought in to Coleraine by former Northern Ireland internationals Bertie Peacock and Jim Platt, making his debut in the Irish League at the age of 15 and was a regular in the side by the age of 18. After playing against Dundee United in a UEFA Cup tie in 1987 O'Neill came close to joining the Scottish club.
In October 1987 he was signed by Newcastle United for a £100,000 fee. After scoring 13 goals in 22 appearances during his first season and helping Newcastle finish eighth in the First Division, O'Neill suffered from injuries and loss of form in his second season which saw Newcastle relegated to the Second Division.
O'Neill joined Dundee United in August 1989 for a club record fee of £350,000. A difficult relationship with manager Jim McLean came to a head in 1991 when O'Neill refused to extend his contract and was dropped from the first team. He left the club in 1993 joining Hibernian where he had three successful seasons under the management of Alex Miller. O'Neill agreed to join Austrian club Sturm Graz on a Bosman free transfer in 1996 but changed his mind after an offer to return to English football with Coventry City where he spent just over two years.
After spending time on loan to Aberdeen and Reading during the 1997–98 season O'Neill left Coventry to sign for Wigan Athletic in September 1998. He later played for St Johnstone, Portland Timbers, Clydebank, Glentoran and Ayr United.
He played for the under-21, under-23, B and full international teams of Northern Ireland. He scored four goals for the national team, including two in a 5–3 win against Austria.
O'Neill retired from playing football in 2004 and began a career in financial services. A year later he took a part-time role as assistant manager at Cowdenbeath, working with Mixu Paatelainen.
O'Neill became manager of Scottish side Brechin City in April 2006. He won the Second Division Manager of the Month award in both December 2007 and October 2008. O'Neill was released by Brechin City to join Shamrock Rovers on 13th December 2008.
At the press conference when unveiled as Rovers manager, he cited Gordon Strachan as his main managerial influence. He was awarded the Irish Soccer Writers Manager of the Month award for July 2009 and eventually guided The Hoops to second place in the 2009 League of Ireland.
In October 2010, he guided Shamrock Rovers to win the 2010 League of Ireland title, their first league championship since 1994. O'Neill led Rovers to the 2011 Setanta Sports Cup and then made history by being the first manager of a League of Ireland team to reach the group stages of a European competition. Rovers defeated Partizan Belgrade in the play-off round of the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League. Shamrock Rovers retained their league title in the 2011 season. New contract talks between O'Neill and Shamrock Rovers stalled and he left the club in December 2011. O'Neill won the Soccer Writers Association Personality of the Year award for 2011.
O'Neill was appointed manager of Northern Ireland on 28 December 2011, with one report stating he was "the first Catholic in 50 years to manage Northern Ireland". However, this is almost certainly untrue, since previous managers Lawrie Sanchez and Lawrie McMenemy were both educated in Roman Catholic schools. O'Neill's first game in charge ended in defeat with a 3–0 loss to Norway. In his next game an inexperienced Northern Ireland team were beaten 6–0 by the Netherlands in Amsterdam. During their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, Northern Ireland earned some creditable results, including a 1–1 draw away to Portugal and a 1–0 home win against Russia.
In November 2013, O'Neill agreed a new two-year deal with Irish Football Association to remain as Northern Ireland manager.
Northern Ireland qualified for their first ever European Championship, Euro 2016 in France after beating Greece 3–1 at Windsor Park on 8 October 2015. It was the first time in 30 years that Northern Ireland had qualified for a major tournament. At the tournament itself he led the side to the second round, losing narrowly to Wales but recorded a surprise victory over Ukraine in the group stages.
In January 2018, O'Neill turned down an offer to become manager of Scotland following discussions with the Scottish Football Association.
O'Neill initially continued as Northern Ireland manager after his appointment by Stoke City in November 2019. He had intended to stay on for UEFA Euro 2020 playoffs, which had been scheduled for March 2020, but these were postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Euro 2020 playoffs delayed at least until the autumn of 2020, O'Neill resigned as Northern Ireland manager on 22 April.
O'Neill was appointed manager of EFL Championship club Stoke City on 8th November 2019.
Sir Kenneth Branagh
Sir Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh is a British actor, director, film producer and screenwriter. Branagh, the middle of three children, was born in Belfast, the son of working class parents Frances (née Harper) and William Branagh, a plumber and joiner who ran a company that specialised in fitting partitions and suspended ceilings. He lived in the Tigers Bay area of the city and was educated at Grove Primary School.
Branagh trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London; in 2015 he succeeded Richard Attenborough as its president. He has both directed and starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays, including Henry V (1989) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Director), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Othello (1995), Hamlet (1996) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay), Love's Labour's Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006). Branagh has starred in numerous other films and television series including many Hollywood blockbusters.
Branagh has been nominated for five Academy Awards, the first man to be nominated for five different categories. His first two nominations were for Henry V (one each for directing and acting). He also received similar BAFTA Award nominations for his film work, winning one for his direction. His first BAFTA TV award came in April 2009, for Best Drama Series (Wallander). Branagh's two other Academy Award nominations were for the 1992 film short subject Swan Song and for his work on the screenplay of Hamlet in 1996. His most recent is for his portrayal of Lord Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilynin 2012.
He is Honorary President of NICVA (the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action). He received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Queen's University of Belfast in 1990. He is also a patron for the charity Over The Wall.
Branagh was the youngest actor to receive the Golden Quill (also known as the Gielgud Award) in 2000. In 2001 he was appointed an honorary Doctor of Literature at the Shakespeare Institute of The University of Birmingham; the Shakespeare Institute Library keeps the archive of his Renaissance Theatre Company and Renaissance Films.
On 10 July 2009, Branagh was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the RomaFictionFest.
He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to drama and to the community in Northern Ireland. He received the accolade at Buckingham Palace on 9 November 2012; afterwards, Branagh told a BBC reporter that he was "humble, elated, and incredibly lucky" to be knighted.
In October 2015, it was announced that Branagh would be the new President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), succeeding the late Lord Attenborough. As the President of RADA and one of the highest profile actors and filmmakers in contemporary British popular culture, Branagh appeared on Debrett's 2017 list of the most influential people in the UK.
In October 2017, it was announced that Branagh would be conferred with the Freedom of the City of Belfast. The honour was officially conferred on him by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, at a ceremony in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, on 30 January 2018.
Darren Christopher Clarke OBE
Darren Christopher Clarke OBE
Darren Clarke, OBE is a professional golfer from Northern Ireland who currently plays on the PGA Tour Champions and has previously played on the European Tour and PGA Tour.
Clarke was born in Dungannon, County Tyrone, and in 1987 he played collegiate golf at Wake Forest University in the United States. He was a junior member of Dungannon Golf Club, whose junior section also included three others who are current PGA Golf Professionals: Alistair Cardwell, Barry Hamill and Gary Chambers. Clarke represented his school, Royal School Dungannon, together with Cardwell and Chambers.
Clarke turned professional in 1990 and played his first full season on the European Tour in 1991. He contested in his first major championship at the 1991 Open Championship, making the cut before finishing in a tie for 64th place. In 1992 Clarke had a solid season on the European Tour, finishing 41st in overall Order of Merit, in doing so achieving his highest finish of his career at the time with a second-place finish at the Honda Open. He finished three strokes behind champion Bernhard Langer.
He has won 21 tournaments worldwide on a number of golf's main tours including the European Tour, the PGA Tour, the Sunshine Tour and the Japan Golf Tour. His biggest victory came when he won the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's in England, his first major win after more than 20 years and 54 attempts.
Clarke has also won two World Golf Championship events, most notably the 2000 WGC-Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship, when he defeated Tiger Woods in the final. Clarke was ranked in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking for 43 weeks between 2000 and 2002. His highest finish on the European Tour money list is second, which he achieved in 1998, 2000 and 2003. Clarke is currently ranked as the seventh highest career money winner on the European Tour.
Clarke has represented Ireland as both an amateur and as a professional, notably at the World Cup and Alfred Dunhill Cup, and was a member of five consecutive European Ryder Cup teams between 1997 and 2006.
Clarke's grandfather Ben played for Portadown, Sheffield United, Exeter City and Carlisle United and earned two amateur caps for the Ireland national football team in 1934. His father Godfrey played for Glenavon.
He met his wife Heather in a nightclub in Portrush, County Antrim, and they married in March 1996. The couple had two sons, Tyrone and Conor, and the family lived at Sunningdale, Berkshire, UK. In 2005 and 2006 he missed several tournaments to care for his wife, who had been diagnosed with both primary breast cancer in December 2001, then, in 2004, with secondary breast cancer. Heather Clarke died on Sunday 13 August 2006 at 39 years of age, in the Royal Marsden Hospital, London.
Clarke's friend Paul McGinley immediately announced his own withdrawal from the PGA Championship starting in Medinah, Illinois. In a statement McGinley said, "Our two families are very much intertwined, obviously me and Darren, but Heather and (McGinley's wife) Ali were the best of friends and our kids are in the same class at school. So it is a tough time for us all".
Following Clarke's performance at the 2006 Ryder Cup, six weeks after his wife had died, he was the favourite to win the 2006 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, but was runner-up to Zara Phillips. He had previously stated he did not want to win with a sympathy vote after his wife's death.
Clarke and his sons moved back to Northern Ireland, making their home in Portrush. Clarke and former Miss Northern Ireland Alison Campbell married on 11 April 2012.
Clarke was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to golf.
Ronald James Adams
Ronald James Adams
Ronnie Adams was a British rally driver from Belfast.
Born into a successful business family, Ronnie Adams was educated at Rockport School in Holywood, Co Down.
Adams won the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally, for Jaguar, and was the first winner of the Circuit of Ireland rally in 1936 at the age of 20.
During a 30-year motorsport career, Adams was one of the leading Ulstermen at this time, and became a Jaguar works driver following the war.
Due to petrol rationing in the 1940s he turned his attention to sailing and nearly made the 1948 Great Britain Olympic team.
In 1956 he and his co-drivers Frank Biggar and Derek Johnston had their most successful victory at the Monte Carlo Rally in January in a Jaguar Mark 7. They defeated the Mercedes-Benz 220 A of Walter Schock (West Germany) and the Sunbeam Mk3 of Peter Harper (UK).
Adams's international rallying career finally ended on medical advice, due to an irregular heartbeat.
Adams married Eileen and had four children, Cynthia, Michael, Gilbert and Kenneth. Following the death of Eileen, he married Shelagh, who survived him together with the four children of his first marriage.
Gerard Joseph Armstrong
Gerard Joseph Armstrong
Gerry Armstrong is a former Northern Ireland international footballer who played for Tottenham Hotspur.
He spent the majority of his career in England, as well as having a spell in Spain. He represented the Northern Ireland national football team and won acclaim at the 1982 FIFA World Cup, where he was the highest scoring player from the UK; this included a shock winner against hosts Spain. He currently works as a football analyst.
Armstrong, who supported English club Leeds United as a boy, began his career in Northern Ireland with St Paul's Swifts. He only started to play football as a teenager when serving a ban from Gaelic football, and feels that his late start in the game was a significant disadvantage.
He subsequently moved on to play for Cromac Albion and Bangor.
In November 1975, Armstrong moved to England, signing with Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £25,000. He made his Spurs debut in a 3–1 defeat at Ipswich Town on 21 August 1976, aged 22. He made a total of 84 league appearances for Spurs, scoring 10 goals.
In November 1980 he was signed by Second Division side Watford for £250,000. Watford were promoted to the First Division in the 1981–82 season, and Armstrong scored the club's first ever goal in the top flight.
In August 1983, he moved to Spain with RCD Mallorca for £200,000. Following the goal he scored against Spain in the 1982 World Cup, he was the subject of abuse from opposition fans.
Armstrong returned to England in August 1985, signing for West Bromwich Albion on a free transfer. In January 1986 he was loaned to Chesterfield, whom he joined permanently in March 1986 until the end of the season. On his debut, Armstrong scored for the Spireites in a 3-1 home defeat to Brentford. He signed for Brighton & Hove Albion on a free transfer in August 1986. In January 1987, he was loaned to Millwall.
By 1988, Armstrong had become a player-coach at Brighton, but left the club after an altercation with a fan. In February 1989, he took up the same position at Crawley Town, before leaving in March 1990 after another confrontation with a fan. He joined Glenavon as a player the same month, and by April 1990 he was also playing midweek games for Bromley.
Armstrong last played competitive football for Brighton based non-league side Whitehawk in 1997-98, making a scoring debut on 9 December 1997 in 3-1 Sussex County League Cup defeat at Burgess Hill Town. He played twice more in the league for Whitehawk that season.
In April 1976, during his first season in English football, Armstrong made his debut for the Northern Ireland national team. He played alongside George Best in a 5–0 friendly defeat to West Germany.
Six years later, Armstrong was selected for the Northern Ireland squad for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. After a 0–0 draw in their opening match against Yugoslavia, Armstrong scored the opening goal in the 1–1 draw against Honduras. With Northern Ireland requiring a win to progress to the next stage, Armstrong scored a 47th-minute goal against hosts Spain in Valencia. Northern Ireland even had Mal Donaghy sent off, but held on to win 1–0.
In the next stage, also a group round, Northern Ireland drew 2-2 with Austria, with Armstrong scoring in the subsequent 4–1 loss to France.
Armstrong made a total of six appearances for Northern Ireland in the World Cup.
In November 1991, Armstrong was appointed manager of non-league club Worthing, leading them to promotion in 1993. In 1994, he became assistant manager of the Northern Ireland national team, under his former national teammate Bryan Hamilton. In 1995, he left Worthing, and in March 1996 he has been appointed a Surrey FA youth coach.
In 2004, he reprised his role as Northern Ireland assistant manager under Lawrie Sanchez. He left the position in August 2006 to concentrate on other commitments, as it was revealed that he and his wife Debby were expecting a child.
Armstrong had combined his coaching positions with employment in football journalism - in television, in radio and in print. He works as a co-commentator for Sky Sports' coverage of La Liga and also works as an analyst for the Premier League coverage of ESPN Star Sports.
He used to work on talkSPORT radio presenting their show that looked at European Football on Monday night with Gab Marcotti but Armstrong has since left the station. He is an outspoken critic of the amount of diving in the modern game.
Armstrong has appeared on Singaporean media as an analyst on SingTel mio TV's 2014 World Cup coverage which was mirrored on The Straits Times.
He currently co-commentates for Virgin Media TV in Ireland.
Kirsty Hegarty (née Barr) is an international trap shooter from Northern Ireland.
Kirsty Barr was born in Craigavon, County Armagh in 1988, the daughter of shooters Clifford and Sandra Barr.
Kirsty attended Ballymena Academy, County Antrim and is an alumna of Queens University, Belfast, where she studied Aerospace Engineering.
At the Commonwealth Shooting Championships (CSF) 2010, test event for the Commonwealth Games, Kirsty secured her first international Gold medal.
At the 2010 Commonwealth Games Barr finished 17th in the trap, and 4th in the pairs trap. At the 2010 ISSF World Shooting Championships she finished 34th.
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games Barr finished 6th in the trap. At the 2014 ISSF World Shooting Championships she was 22nd. At the 2015 ISSF World Shooting Championships she was 11th and at the 2017 ISSF World Shooting Championships she was 13th.
As part of the Great Britain Shooting team, British Shooting Kirsty Barr alongside teammates Abbey Burton and Charlotte Kerwood won team Gold at the 2015 ISSF World Shooting Championships, Lonato.
In 2016 Barr qualified for her first ISSF final in Baku, scoring 71ex75 in qualification. Barr finished 6th in the final.
Barr won a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the women's trap event.
Also in 2018 Barr continued her success to win Silver in the European Championships in woman's trap. And in the team event was part of the GB ladies team that finished 4th losing out to Finland who secured the bronze medal.
In the World Championships in South Korea, Kirsty along with shooting partner Aaron Heading, fought their way to a Bronze medal in the Mixed Team Trap event losing Silver to Russia on back number and missing out on a quota place for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
In 2019 Barr along with Matthew Coward-Howlly won a Bronze in the Mixed Team Trap event in Acapulco, Mexico.
Barr's form continued into the Al Ain ISSF World Cup where she secured Silver Medal and an Olympic Quota Place for Team GB for the 2020 Olympics. On 13th January 2021 Team GB announced Hegarty would be competing in the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Hegarty was the first confirmed Northern Ireland Olympian for the 2020 games.
While not on the range Kirsty is an Aerospace Engineer for Bombarider Aerospace, Shorts based in Belfast.
Eamonn Holmes OBE
Eamonn Holmes OBE
Eamonn Holmes OBE is a journalist and broadcaster from Northern Ireland. Holmes co-presented GMTV for twelve years between 1993 and 2005, before presenting Sky News Sunrise for eleven years between 2005 and 2016. Since 2006, he has co-hosted This Morning with his wife Ruth Langsford on Fridays and during school holidays.
He has also presented How the Other Half Lives (2015–present) and It's Not Me, It's You (2016) for Channel 5. Holmes is an advocate of numerous charities and causes including Dogs Trust, Variety GB and Northern Ireland Kidney Patients' Association.
Holmes was educated at Holy Family Primary School and St Malachy's College, Belfast. He then studied journalism at the Dublin College of Business Studies.
In 1985, Holmes married his first wife, Gabrielle Holmes, with whom he has three children, Declan, Rebecca and Niall. They separated in 1995. In 1997, Holmes began dating Ruth Langsford, but the couple kept their relationship secret out of respect for Gabrielle and their children.
In 2002, Langsford gave birth to their son, Jack Alexander Holmes. Holmes and Gabrielle eventually divorced in 2005. On 26 June 2010, Holmes married Langsford at Elvetham Hall, near Hartley Wintney, Hampshire.
Before entering broadcasting, Holmes worked for a Dublin-based business magazine. In 1979, he joined Ulster Television, the ITV franchise contractor for Northern Ireland working as a host and reporter for the station's Farming Ulster programme. Afterwards, he teamed up with Ulster Television's sports reporters, Leslie Dawes (1922–2014) and Jackie Fullerton, to assist in covering sporting events in the province.
In 1982, Holmes was moved into news and current affairs reporting when he was tasked to anchor Ulster Television's flagship Good Evening Ulster programme. Holmes succeeded Gloria Hunniford who had presented the show since its launch in 1979. Holmes was the third choice to present the programme after trial runs by news reporters Gary Gillespie and Gerry Kelly.
In addition to his news and current affairs role, Holmes has also hosted other Ulster Television productions, including Miss Northern Ireland gala specials in 1985 and 1986. With Ulster Television, he won a Hometown Radio Award. He departed in 1986 to join the BBC. At the corporation's Manchester studios, Holmes worked as a presenter on the daytime Open Air programme which was broadcast nationally on BBC1.
Holmes was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to broadcasting in the 2018 New Year Honours. He collected his OBE from Queen Elizabeth II on 1st June 2018.
'Stormin' Norman Parke
'Stormin' Norman Parke
Mixed Martial Artist
Norman Parke is a mixed martial artist from Northern Ireland. A professional MMA competitor since 2006, Parke has fought for the UFC, Absolute Championship Berkut, KSW, and BAMMA. He was also a competitor for Team UK on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in late 2012 and won the Lightweight Tournament.
Born and raised in Bushmills, Northern Ireland, Parke began training in Judo at the age of 16. He went on to be a National Champion in Judo as well as Freestyle Wrestling in 2009-2010 and 2011–2012. Later, after he also began training in boxing, Parke transitioned into mixed martial arts at the age of 20.
Before signing with the UFC, Parke compiled a record of 16–2, with 12 of his victories coming via submission. Parke's losses were against the veteran Greg Loughran and the then-undefeated Joseph Duffy.
Parke was introduced to the masses and given his first televised fight by Cage Contender on 24 July 2010, going on to fight for the promotion more times than anywhere else. In his last fight under the Cage Contender banner, Parke claimed the vacant Cage Contender Lightweight Championship.
After going 14–2, Parke signed to face Anton Kuivanen at Fight Festival 29, in what would have been his first fight outside Ireland and the United Kingdom. However, the fight did not materialise and Kuivanen fought another fighter on the card. After a further victory domestically, Parke signed with Cage Warriors to face Brad Wheeler in February 2012. However, Parke withdrew after a hand injury. Parke returned in May 2012, where he defeated Stephen Coll via TKO, in what turned out to be his final appearance before joining The Ultimate Fighter.
Parke made his UFC debut on 15 December 2012 at UFC on FX 6 which was also known as "The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes Finale". Parke would fight Colin Fletcher to determine the lightweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. Parke controlled the entirety of the fight and won the fight via unanimous decision.
Parke was expected to face Jon Tuck on 20 April 2013 at UFC on Fox 7. However, the bout was scrapped during the week leading up to the event as Tuck was forced out of the bout with an injury.
Parke fought Kazuki Tokudome on 6 July 2013 at UFC 162. He won the fight by unanimous decision.
A rescheduled bout with Jon Tuck eventually took place on 26 October 2013 at UFC Fight Night 30. Parke won the fight via unanimous decision.
Parke faced TUF: Brazil 2 winner Leonardo Santos at UFC Fight Night 38. Due to a point deduction for Parke grabbing Santos' shorts, the bout ended in a majority draw.
Parke faced returning veteran Naoyuki Kotani on 19 July 2014 at UFC Fight Night 46 in Dublin. He won the fight via TKO in the second round.
Parke was expected to face Diego Sanchez on 15 November 2014 at UFC 180. However, Parke pulled out of the bout in early October citing a knee injury and was replaced by Joe Lauzon.
Parke was expected to face Jorge Masvidal on 18 January 2015 at UFC Fight Night 59. However, in early December, Masvidal pulled out of the bout citing an injury and was replaced by Gleison Tibau. Parke lost the fight via split decision.
Parke was expected to face Gilbert Burns on 30 May 2015 at UFC Fight Night 67. However, Burns pulled out of the fight in late April and was replaced by Francisco Trinaldo. Parke lost the fight via split decision.
Parke faced returning veteran Reza Madadi on 24 October 2015 at UFC Fight Night 76. He won the fight by unanimous decision.
Parke faced Rustam Khabilov on 27 February 2016 at UFC Fight Night 84. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Following the loss to Khabilov, Parke was released by the UFC.
Parke faced Andrew Fisher on 1 October 2016 at ACB 47: Braveheart. He won the fight via unanimous decision.
On 24 February 2017, Parke made his debut for the BAMMA organization. He faced Paul Redmond at BAMMA 28 and won the fight by majority decision.
After a few bouts in the KSW and Brave CF, it was announced on 14 July 2018 that Parke had signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator. Despite the contract with Bellator, Parke faced former KSW Welterweight Champion Borys Mankowski at KSW 47 on 23 March 2019 and won the bout via unanimous decision.
After defeating the former KSW Featherweight Champion Artur Sowiński via unanimous decision at KSW 49: Soldić vs. Kaszubowski, Parke was expected to face Marian Ziółkowski for the interim KSW Lightweight Championship at KSW 50 on 14 September 2019. However, Ziółkowski was forced to withdraw from the bout due to an injury and was replaced by former KSW Featherweight Champion Marcin Wrzosek. Parke won the fight by split decision.
Parke faced Mateusz Gamrot in a trilogy bout at KSW 53 on 11 July 2020. The bout was expected to be the Lightweight Championship unification bout, but Parke was unable to make weight thus the title is not on the line. Parke lost the fight via doctor stoppage in the third round.
Moyna Macgill (born Charlotte Lillian McIldowie; 10 December 1895 – 25 November 1975) was an actress from Belfast and the mother of actress Angela Lansbury and producers Edgar and Bruce Lansbury.
Born Charlotte Lillian McIldowie in Belfast, she was the daughter of William McIldowie and Elizabeth Jane (née Mageean). Her father was a wealthy solicitor who was a director of the Grand Opera House in Belfast, a position that sparked her interest in theatrics.
As a teenager she was noticed riding the London Underground by director and producer George Pearson, who cast her in several of his films. In 1918, she made her stage debut in the play Love is a Cottage at the West End theatres Globe Theatre. Encouraged by Sir Gerald du Maurier to change her name to Moyna Macgill (which invariably was misspelled as "MacGill" or "McGill", and on at least one occasion, the film Texas, Brooklyn & Heaven, as "Magill"), she became a leading actress of the day, appearing in light comedies, melodramas, and classics opposite Herbert Marshall, John Gielgud, and Basil Rathbone, among others.
Twenty-six-year-old Macgill was married with a three-year-old daughter, Isolde (who later married Sir Peter Ustinov), when she became involved romantically with Edgar Lansbury, a socialist politician, who was a son of the Labour MP and Leader of the Opposition George Lansbury. Her husband, actor Reginald Denham, named Lansbury as co-respondent when he filed for divorce. A year after it was finalized, Macgill and Lansbury married and with Isolde settled into a garden flat in London's Regent's Park.
Macgill temporarily set aside her career following the birth of daughter Angela and twin sons Edgar, Jr., and Bruce (both went on to become Broadway producers, but Bruce is better known for his work on television, such as the series The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, and his sister's Murder, She Wrote), although music and dance were prevalent in their upbringing. When they moved into a larger house in suburban Mill Hill, she turned their home into a salon for actors, writers, directors, musicians, and artists, all of whom left an impression on young Angela and were instrumental in directing her interests towards acting.
Angela Lansbury would become a popular stage and film actress in her own right, starring in the long-running television series Murder, She Wrote after a string of successful musicals spanning between the 1940s and 1960s. In 1935, Edgar Lansbury died of stomach cancer, a year after publishing a biography of his father George. Macgill began an affair with Scotsman Leckie Forbes, a former colonel with the British Army in India. The two moved their respective families to a house in Hampstead, but Macgill soon discovered Forbes' military career had made him a staunch disciplinarian who ruled the household like a tyrant.
When the opportunity to take her children to the U.S. presented itself just prior to The Blitz, she spirited them away under cover of night. She never spoke to Forbes again. In New York City, Macgill was unable to work in movies or on the stage, not having a work visa, and she took to presenting dramatic readings at private schools for income.
In 1942, she was invited to join a troupe that was rehearsing Noël Coward's Tonight at 8.30 for a touring production designed to raise funds for the Royal Canadian Air Force. She accepted, and when the company finished the run in Vancouver, she headed to Hollywood to seek work there. She soon sent for Angela, and eventually the twins, and the family settled in Laurel Canyon.
Her career in Hollywood consisted largely of small character parts in films and on television. Among her more notable film credits are Frenchman's Creek and The Picture of Dorian Gray (which co-starred her daughter Angela). In later years she made guest appearances on such television series as Studio One, The Twilight Zone, Dr. Kildare, Mister Ed and My Favorite Martian.
She died in Los Angeles, 15 days shy of her 80th birthday.
Stuart Dallas is a professional footballer from Cookstown who plays for Premier League club Leeds United and the Northern Ireland national team. A versatile player, most of his career appearances have been as a winger but in recent seasons he has played more often in midfield and at full-back. He was a key part of the Leeds United team under Marcelo Bielsa that won the 2019-20 EFL Championship and promotion to the premier league.
Dallas attended Cookstown Primary School and Cookstown High School during his education, winning the U14 and U15 League titles with the high school in 2004 and 2005. He later played for local side Coagh United as an amateur.
After a fine 2009–10 season for Coagh United, Dallas signed for Crusaders in the summer of 2010, training once a week and earning £70 a week. He made his debut against Donegal Celtic on 7th August 2010. He scored his first goals against Coleraine on 21st August, and his first goal at Seaview proved to be the winning goal in a 5–4 victory over Glenavon. He continued his good form with a goal against Linfield at Seaview, to help the Crues beat the Blues at home for the first time in 11 years. In his first year at Crusaders, Dallas received six prizes at the Annual Player of the Year awards ceremony. He was chosen as both the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year for the 2010–11 season. Dallas made 38 appearances and scored 16 goals during the 2010–11 season.
Dallas made two appearances in Crusaders' Europa League second qualifying round matches against Premier League side Fulham early in the 2011–12 season, starting both games as Crusaders lost 7–1 on aggregate. Dallas' final goal for Crusaders was the winning goal against Portadown on 2nd January 2012, and his final match was the 2012 Setanta Sports Cup final victory over Derry City, in which he scored in the penalty shootout. Dallas made 47 appearances and scored 10 goals during the 2011–12 season. He departed the club in the summer of 2012, after making 85 appearances and scoring 26 goals during his two seasons with Crusaders.
On 12 April 2012, it was announced that Dallas had signed a pre-contract with League One side Brentford who were managed by Uwe Rosler and he joined the club that summer. He made his debut for the Bees (the first professional appearance of his career) in a 1–0 Football League Trophy win over Crawley Town on 9th October, coming off the bench after 75 minutes to replace Scott Barron. His first start came in a 4–2 FA Cup replay win at home to Bradford City on 18th December. He made 11 appearances over the course of the 2012–13 season and scored no goals. Dallas' first three appearances of the 2013–14 season came in cup competitions and he set up two goals in a 5–3 Football League Trophy victory over AFC Wimbledon on 3rd September 2013.
Dallas signed for League Two side Northampton Town on a month's loan on 5th October 2013 and went straight into the squad for the Cobblers' match that day against AFC Wimbledon. After replacing Chris Hackett in the 57th minute, he scored Northampton's second goal in a 2–0 victory. He bagged his second Northampton goal in his third match for the club, following up fellow Brentford loanee Luke Norris' opener in a 3–2 defeat to Rochdale on 22nd October. On 5 November, Dallas' loan was extended until 1 January 2014. He scored the only goal of the game against Accrington Stanley on 30th November. An injury suffered to Brentford's on-loan Cardiff City winger Kadeem Harris meant that Dallas was recalled early from his loan on 23rd December. He made 12 appearances for Northampton and scored three goals. Of his time at Northampton, Dallas said "on a personal note my loan spell was OK. I was playing every week. It was a good experience but results did not go our way and it was hard, when you are at the bottom everything seems to go against you". He also remarked that the training was less intense than he was used to at Brentford.
Dallas signed a new two-year contract at Brentford on 13th November, which would have kept him at Griffin Park until the end of the 2015–16 season. Dallas found his minutes on the pitch limited during the early months of 2014, but he broke into the starting lineup in April, starting in six of the Bees' final seven games of the season. Dallas scored his first Brentford goal with what turned out to be a consolation in a 4–1 defeat to Colchester United on 26 April. He made it two in two games when he scored the opener in a 2–0 win over Stevenage on the final day. Dallas made 21 appearances and scored two goals in a season in which Brentford secured automatic promotion to the Championship.
On 26th June 2014, Dallas signed a one-year extension to his existing contract, potentially keeping him at Griffin Park until the summer of 2017. He opened his goalscoring account for the 2014–15 season on his second appearance of the campaign, scoring two goals in the opening ten minutes of a bizarre League Cup first round shootout victory over Dagenham & Redbridge, which finished 6–6 after extra time. He also converted Brentford's first penalty in the shootout. Dallas scored his first league goal of the season on 19th August 2014, bagging the winner in a 2–1 victory over Blackpool. A quadriceps injury suffered in a 3–0 defeat to Norwich City on 16th September ended Dallas' fine start to the 2014–15 season. He made his comeback from injury on 1st November against Derby County, replacing Jon Toral after 66 minutes. With the score at 1–1, he scored his fourth goal of the season with a dramatic 93rd-minute winner. In the following game, Dallas was pressed into service as an emergency right back for the final 25 minutes of a 3–1 win over Nottingham Forest, having replaced the injured Moses Odubajo. He later deputised on the opposite flank for the suspended Jake Bidwell in February 2015.
Dallas netted his sixth goal of the season with the only goal of the game versus Rotherham United on 10 January 2015, a performance which established him in the starting lineup. After nearly four months without a goal, Dallas scored twice in the Bees' 4–1 win over bitter rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage on 3 April. His second strike later won the club's Goal of the Season award. He failed to score again during the season, which ended in defeat to Middlesbrough in the playoff semi-finals. Dallas made 44 appearances and scored eight goals during the 2014–15 season.
On 31st July 2015, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that Brentford had accepted a bid for Dallas of over £1m from fellow Championship side Leeds United. On 1st August 2015, new Brentford Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen revealed that Dallas did not want to sign a new contract at Brentford with a year remaining of his current contract and that he was likely to leave the club.
In August 2015, Dallas joined Leeds United on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee, reported to be in the region of £1.3 million. He made his debut for Leeds in the Football League Championship in a 1–1 draw against Burnley on the opening day of the season, and scored his first goal for the club against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 17th December 2015. After making 49 appearances, more than any other player in the squad, he was named Leeds' 'Players' Player Of The Year' for 2015–16.
After missing the majority of pre-season training due to his participation in UEFA Euro 2016 with Northern Ireland, Dallas then had an injury hit start to the season, missing five weeks after suffering a calf strain. He returned in November 2016, and went on to make 31 appearances that season. In August 2017, Dallas signed a new three-year contract at the club keeping him at Leeds until the 2019–20 season.
Due to injuries to several fullback, including Luke Ayling and Laurens De Bock, Dallas found himself used as a right-back for periods during the 2017–18 season.
During the 2018–19 season, Dallas found himself also playing in several positions under new head coach Marcelo Bielsa before long-term injuries to Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi meant Dallas had an extended run in the side as right-back. He scored his first goal of the season on 27th November in a 1–0 win against Reading. However, on 1st December, Dallas broke his foot after picking up the injury in a 1–0 win against Sheffield United. The injury ruled him out for several weeks. However, after his return to training, Dallas was ruled out for another 6 weeks after picking up another injury in January 2019.
During the 2018–19 season, Dallas played 29 games in all competitions, scoring 4 goals. After Leeds finished the regular season in third place, they qualified for the play-offs. Dallas started both legs of the Championship play-off semi-final against Derby County at left-back, following his return from injury, due to injuries to Barry Douglas, Gjanni Alioski and Leif Davis. Leeds won the first leg of the play-off semi-final, a 1–0 win at Pride Park, but despite two goals from Dallas, Leeds lost the reverse leg 4–2 at Elland Road, seeing Derby progress to the final against Aston Villa.
In June 2019, teammate Bailey Peacock-Farrell revealed he and Dallas turned down the option of starting pre-season training a week later after featuring on international duty for Northern Ireland over the summer, in order to fight for a starting spot.
On 24 August, Dallas scored his first goal of the 2019–20 season in a 3–0 win over Stoke City, In September 2019, he signed a new four-year contract with Leeds United.
Dallas found himself one of the first names on the first team sheet, being ever present for the first half of the season, with Dallas playing in a range of positions, including left-back, right-back and central midfield after injuries to Adam Forshaw, Jamie Shackleton, Tyler Roberts and Pablo Hernández.
After the English professional football season was paused in March 2020 due to Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on association football, the season was resumed during June, where Dallas earned promotion with Leeds to the Premier League and also become the EFL Championship champions for the 2019–20 season in July after the successful resumption of the season.
Dallas won Leeds' Players Player of the season award at the clubs end of season awards on 24th July 2020.
Dallas made his Premier League debut in the first match of the season against Liverpool on 12th September 2020, starting in the 4–3 defeat at Anfield to the reigning champions.
On 22nd November 2020, Dallas made his 200th appearance for Leeds, joining a select group of just under 70 players that have made over 200 appearances for the club. On 2nd November 2020, He scored his first premier league goal in a 1-4 home loss against Leicester.
Due to his form for Crusaders early in the 2010–11 season, Dallas (along with team-mates Chris Keenan, Martin Donnelly and Jordan Owens) received a call-up to the Northern Ireland U23 squad for an International Challenge Trophy match versus Portugal U23 on 12th October 2010. He played the full 90 minutes of the 2–0 defeat. At the end of the 2010–11 season, along with teammates Colin Coates and Jordan Owens, Dallas received a call-up to the full Northern Ireland squad for 2011 Nations Cup games against Republic of Ireland and Wales. He made his debut against Wales in Dublin, coming on in the 63rd minute for Craig Cathcart. Early in the 2011–12 season, Dallas received a call into the Under-21 side for a 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification match against Denmark on 6th September 2011. He played 65 minutes of the 3–0 defeat, before being substituted for future Brentford teammate Will Grigg.
A run of starts for Brentford since January 2015 saw Dallas called up for matches versus Scotland and Finland in late March 2015. He won his first full international cap in nearly four years against Scotland on 25 March, playing the full 90 minutes of a 1–0 defeat. On 31st May 2015, Dallas combined with Will Grigg to score his first ever international goal in a 1–1 draw with Qatar at Gresty Road (Crewe, England).
On 8 October 2015, Northern Ireland qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 in France, beating Greece 3–1. It was the first time in 30 years that Northern Ireland had qualified for a major tournament, with Dallas playing a crucial role in qualifying. On 18th May 2016, Dallas was selected as part of the provisional 27-man squad for the Euro 2016 competition, and ten days later was named in the final 23-man squad.
On 12th June 2016, Dallas came on as a half time substitute for Paddy McNair in Northern Ireland's 1–0 loss in their opening UEFA Euro 2016 game against Poland. On 16th June, he started in the historic 2–0 Euro 2016 victory against Ukraine, providing an assist for Niall McGinn's goal, which proved crucial in helping them qualify for the Round of 16.
On 10th June 2017, Dallas scored the winner for Northern Ireland in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier 1–0 victory against Azerbaijan.
Sir Anthony Peter McCoy OBE
Sir Anthony Peter McCoy OBE
AP McCoy or Tony McCoy is a former horse racing jockey from Northern Ireland. McCoy rode a record 4,358 winners, and was Champion Jockey a record 20 consecutive times, every year he was a professional.
McCoy was born in Moneyglass, County Antrim. He and his wife Chanelle have two children, named Eve and Archie. Far taller than most jockeys, he stands 1.78 m (5'10"). To maintain a suitable racing weight, McCoy had to keep his weight down to 63.5 kg (10 stone). His natural weight, based on his physiology, should be about 75 kg (one and a half stone more).
McCoy recorded his first winner in 1992 at age 17. On 7 November 2013 he rode his 4,000th winner, riding Mountain Tunes to victory at Towcester. Even in his first season riding in Britain, as an apprentice for trainer Toby Balding, McCoy won the Conditional Jump Jockeys Title with a record 74 winners for a conditional jockey. McCoy claimed his first Champion Jockey title in 1995/96 and went on to win it every year until his retirement in 2015.
McCoy has won almost every big race there is to win. His most high-profile winners include the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, King George VI Chase and the 2010 Grand National, riding Don't Push It.
He was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2010, becoming the first jockey to win the award, and in December 2013 he was named RTÉ Sports Person of the Year.
He was knighted in January 2016.
John Alexander Fullerton MBE
John Alexander Fullerton MBE
Jackie Fullerton is a television presenter and journalist, from Ballymena, who is currently a reporter and football commentator for BBC Northern Ireland.
Fullerton was previously a footballer for Irish league clubs Ballymena United, Cliftonville, Derry City and Crusaders; winning the Irish League title with Crusaders in the 1972/1973 season. On the 6th August 1966, Ballymena United were the visitors when Fullerton became Cliftonville's first ever used substitute at Solitude. In addition to his football career, Fullerton also played cricket for Ballymena.
Fullerton's presenting career began in 1973 as a reporter and presenter for Ulster Television. He was invited to work for the station by station controller Sidney Perry after participating in a penalty competition for the Sportscast programme and became the main sports anchor on UTV's evening magazine programme, Good Evening Ulster.
In his autobiography, Fullerton revealed he almost accepted a sports reporter position at Granada Television in 1978, but decided to remain in Northern Ireland for the sake of his family. He also disclosed the controversy caused by rumours of an affair with Good Evening Ulster presenting colleague Gloria Hunniford, which were untrue. It was during his time on Good Evening Ulster when, in 1980, Fullerton interviewed wrestler Giant Haystacks in the studio, who proceeded to slam him on the studio floor - a clip which has been repeated on various blooper TV shows since. Jackie also worked for ITV Network including reports for Saturday lunchtime programme Saint & Greavsie.
Fullerton moved from Ulster Television to BBC Northern Ireland in 1992.
In 2004, the BBC announced that Fullerton would no longer introduce the sport during BBC Newsline, but his reporting and commentating duties would still continue. The same year saw Fullerton undergo triple heart by-pass surgery following a period of ill health. He returned to commentary duties in January 2005.
In 2007, Sky Sports obtained live broadcast rights to Northern Ireland's international matches for £10million. Rumours circulated at the time that Fullerton had been approached by the network to commentate on their coverage of Northern Ireland games. These rumours were unfounded when Fullerton disclosed while he had talks with Sky, he had signed a 'rolling contract' to remain with BBC Northern Ireland.
In 2008, Fullerton interviewed Northern Ireland international David Healy on the footballer's DVD, David Healy, The Talisman.
Fullerton published his autobiography, Jackie: "I Did It My Way", in 2006. He is married with three sons: Darren, Nicky and Gareth, who are all sports journalists themselves.
Fullerton was awarded the MBE in 2010 for his services to sports journalism and his wide-ranging service to the community.
Before becoming a footballer, Fullerton trained to be an accountant. As a sideline to his broadcasting career, Fullerton has also sung on television and on stage. His uncle Alex Russell was a footballer who played for Linfield and earned one cap for the Northern Ireland national team.
Sarah Cathryn Ann Robson (née McFadden)
Sarah Cathryn Ann Robson (née McFadden)
Sarah McFadden is a Northern Irish footballer who plays as a defender or striker for Durham in the FA Women's Championship.
She played for Northern Ireland at Under-14, U15, U17 and U19 levels before turning out for the senior international team, for whom she has earned 74 caps. She made her senior debut in 2005.
Magherafelt-born Sarah played for Moyola Park and Ballymena United Allstars. In 2005, she won a scholarship to University of Southern Mississippi and played varsity soccer for Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Following graduation she headed to the Icelandic Úrvalsdeild, where she played for Fylkir, then Grindavík.
At the end of the 2010 Icelandic season, Sarah and international teammate Rachel Furness left Grindavík for Sunderland.
In June 2012 The Belfast Telegraph newspaper reported that three Northern Ireland players including Sarah had been selected in the 18-player Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics. But Robson quickly denied the report: "I haven't received anything about being in final squad... Wish it was true but unfortunately not." When the final squad was named, no Northern Irish or Welsh players were included.
Although no single person has inspired her during her career, she says playing for her country has always driven her on.
On 13 January 2016, it was announced she was leaving Sunderland after five years serving the club and signing for Durham.
William James Nesbitt OBE
William James Nesbitt OBE
Jimmy Nesbitt was born in Ballymena on the 15th January 1965. His father, James "Jim" Nesbitt, was the headmaster of the primary school in Lisnamurrican (near Broughshane), while his mother, May Nesbitt, was a civil servant.
He has three older sisters named Margaret, Kathryn, and Andrea, all of whom eventually became teachers. The family spent Sunday evenings singing hymns around the piano. Jim marched in the Ballymena Young Conquerors flute band and Nesbitt joined him playing the flute.
When he was 11 years old, the family moved to Coleraine, County Londonderry, where May worked for the Housing Executive. He completed his primary education at Blagh primary school, then moved on to Coleraine Academical Institution(CAI).
In 1978, when he was 13, his parents took him to audition for the Riverside Theatre's Christmas production of Oliver! He sang "Bohemian Rhapsody" at the audition and won the part of the Artful Dodgerin his acting debut. He continued to act and sing with Riverside until he was 16, and appeared at festivals and as an extra in Play For Today: The Cry (1984).
He got his Equity card when the actor playing Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio broke his ankle two days before the performance, and he stepped in to take his place. Acting had not initially appealed to him, but he "felt a light go on" after he saw the film The Winslow Boy(1948).
When he was 15, he got his first paid job as a bingo caller at Barry's Amusements in Portrush. He was paid £1 per hour for the summer job and would also, on occasions, work as the brake man on the big dipper attraction.
His first professional stage appearance came in 1987 when he played Keith in Up on the Roof. In the early 1990s, he lived with fellow actor Jerome Flynn and earned money by signing fan mail for the successful star of Soldier Soldier. In 1991 he appeared in his debut feature film, Hear My Song.
In 1996, he auditioned to play Adam Williams, the male lead in Cold Feet, an ITV Comedy Premiere about three couples in different stages of their romantic relationships. Cold Feet was a critical success winning the 1997 Golden Rose of Montreux and the 1997 British Comedy Award for Best ITV Comedy.
Cold Feet's first series aired at the end of 1998 and was followed by the second series in 1999. A storyline in that series featured Adam being diagnosed with testicular cancer, which inspired Nesbitt to become a patron of the charity Action Cancer.
By the time of the third series, he and the other cast members were able to influence the show's production; an episode featuring Adam's stag weekend was due to be filmed on location in Dublin but Nesbitt suggested it be filmed in Belfast and Portrush instead.
He has also appeared in many acclaimed dramas including Waking Ned Devine, Playing the Field, Touching Evil. He as well as appeared in many feature films including the Hollywood blockbuster The Hobbit trilogy.
He is a patron of Wave, a charity set up to support those traumatised by the Troubles. The charity faced closure due to funding problems before Nesbitt encouraged celebrities and artists to become involved. Since 2005, he has been a UNICEF UK ambassador, working with HIV and AIDS sufferers, and former child soldiers in Africa.
Jimmy is a fan of football teams Coleraine FC and, most passionately, Manchester United FC as well as the Northern Irish national football team.
He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to drama and to the community in Northern Ireland.
Professional Snooker Player
Mark Allen is a professional snooker player from Northern Ireland. He won the World Amateur Championship in 2004. The following year he entered the Main Tour and took only three seasons to reach the elite Top 16. As a prolific break-builder, Allen has compiled more than 450 century breaks in professional competition.
Allen reached his first ranking event final at the 2011 UK Championship. He has to date won five ranking tournaments – 2012 World Open, 2013 World Open, 2016 Players Tour Championship Finals, 2018 International Championship, and 2018 Scottish Open. Allen won his first Triple Crown title at the 2018 Masters tournament.
Although he is naturally right-handed, Allen elects to play with his cue left-handed but switches to his dominant hand when playing with the rest. This technique of playing regular shots left-handed whilst playing rest shots right-handed is similar to other snooker players such as Barry Hawkins and Judd Trump.
Allen's highest break is 147, which he achieved in the 2016 UK Championship.
During the National Lockdown Allen got in touch with someone who was heading the community help scheme in Antrim. He volunteered three or four hours every day to help his local community by getting grocery shopping and doing prescription runs for people who couldn’t get out of the house.
James Michael Nicholl
James Michael Nicholl
Jimmy Nicholl is a former Northern Ireland international footballer who played for several clubs, including Manchester United and Rangers. He was mainly a right-back but could also play in other defensive roles. Nicholl won a total of 73 international caps for Northern Ireland, scoring one goal.
Jimmy Nicholl was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to Northern Irish parents. His family moved back to Northern Ireland when he was 3. Nicholl grew up on the Rathcoole estate on the outskirts of Belfast. After he began his football career as an apprentice with Manchester United, the club arranged for Nicholl's family to relocate to England.
Nicholl started his career as a junior player at Manchester United. His senior career started in 1974. He helped the club win the 1977 FA Cup Final and collected a runners-up medal in 1979.
In 1981, he left the club after scoring five goals, joining Sunderland on a permanent contract after a loan spell, and playing 32 games in one season before moving to Toronto Blizzard in Canada, scoring 11 goals in 77 games over the next two years before signing for Rangers.
In 1984, he returned to the English league to sign for West Bromwich Albion where he stayed until their relegation from the First Division in 1986, then returning to Rangers for three years, helping them win two Scottish league titles in the process.
After leaving Rangers, he signed for Dunfermline Athletic in 1989 before moving to a player-manager role at Raith Rovers, having originally joined them on 27 November 1990. Following his time at Rovers, Nicholl played one game for Bath City in February 1996, a 3–0 defeat at home to Macclesfield Town. He was sent off after 55 minutes and never played for the club again.
Nicholl had great success as manager of Raith Rovers, winning the 1994–95 Scottish League Cup and the 1994–95 Scottish First Division championship. Due to their League Cup triumph, Raith qualified for the 1995–96 UEFA Cup and reached the second round, where they were eliminated by eventual winners Bayern Munich. Having lost the first leg to Bayern 2–0 at Easter Road, Raith took a 1–0 lead at the Olympiastadion thanks to a goal by Danny Lennon. Bayern recovered to win 2–1 on the night and 4–1 on aggregate.
On 28 February 1996, Nicholl was appointed manager of Millwall, who just over two months earlier had been top of Division One but were now sliding down the table. He was unable to arrest the decline and Millwall slipped into Division Two on the last day of the season. He remained at Millwall until the following February, and six months after that returned to Raith Rovers. His second spell at Raith lasted two years, and ended on 14 June 1999 after he had failed to get them back into the top flight.
A 28-day spell as manager of Dunfermline Athletic followed later in 1999, and he later served as assistant manager to Jimmy Calderwood at East End Park. In May 2004, Nicholl followed Calderwood when he took over as manager at Aberdeen, again serving as his assistant until the two parted company with the club in May 2009. He resumed his partnership with Calderwood at Kilmarnock in 2010.
Nicholl was appointed manager of Cowdenbeath in June 2010, but he left Cowdenbeath at the end of the 2010–11 season after they were relegated from the First Division.
Nicholl was then appointed assistant manager of Kilmarnock for a second time, by Kenny Shiels on 15 June 2011. Kilmarnock won the 2011–12 Scottish League Cup under Shiels and Nicholl, but Shiels was sacked by Kilmarnock in June 2013. Nicholl then decided to accept the offer of assistant manager at Hibernian. After manager Pat Fenlon resigned on 1 November, Nicholl was appointed caretaker manager. Nicholl left Hibernian soon after their new management team was recruited.
After leaving Hibernian, Nicholl returned to Cowdenbeath for a second stint as their manager. He led the Blue Brazil to avoid relegation via the Scottish Championship play-offs in the 2013–14 season beating local rivals Dunfermline Athletic in the two-legged final. He led the side to the Fife Cup that season. However a very difficult season followed in 2014–15, which included a joint-record 10–0 defeat to eventual champions Heart of Midlothian. The following week, Cowdenbeath managed to draw 0–0 with Rangers. The club was relegated to League One on the last day, after which Nicholl resigned as manager.
While still at Cowdenbeath, Nicholl had also become assistant manager to Michael O'Neill with the Northern Ireland national team in March 2015. He was appointed as assistant to new Falkirk manager Paul Hartley in October 2017, while also continuing in his role with Northern Ireland. He became assistant manager at Rangers in January 2018, assisting Graeme Murty. After Murty left Rangers on 1 May, Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson were placed in interim charge until the appointment of Steven Gerrard on 1 June.
Nicholl joined St Mirren as their first team coach in November 2018. He then moved to Dundee in May 2019, assisting James McPake. Nicholl was released from the club in June 2020.
On 28 June 2020 Nicoll became assistant manager of Northern Ireland national football team.
Terence Cooper was a British film actor, best known for his roles in Australian and New Zealand television and film.
Born in 1933 at Carnmoney, a district of the modern-day borough of Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland, he became a stage actor and appeared in ITC British television series such as The Buccaneers and The Adventures of William Tell.
Cooper is most famous for appearing in the 1967 film, Casino Royale, a James Bond satire based on Ian Fleming's first Bond novel of the same name. Producer Charles K. Feldman kept him on a contract for two years before the film was made. He also claimed to be a candidate for the role of Bond in a Kevin McClory version of the movie series that predated Eon Productions series.
In New Zealand he starred in many New Zealand TV series such as Hunter's Gold (1977), an episode of Ngaio Marsh Theatre (1977), Gather Your Dreams (1978), Children of Fire Mountain (1979), Jack Holborn (1982) and Mortimer's Patch (1982). He played the part of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's bombastic character 'Professor George Edward Challenger' in a 1982 New Zealand radio dramatization of Doyle's novel "The Lost World" (produced by Peggy Wells and Barry Campbell).
In Australia, he appeared in guest roles in local drama series including Homicide, Division 4, Matlock Police, and Rafferty's Rules, with a regular role as Inspector Leo Vincetti in Bony (1992).
He was also famed as a water color artist. He retired in Far North Queensland, Australia where he painted a collection of water colors depicting Australian tropical rain forests and birdlife.
Perhaps one of Cooper's lesser known achievements was his 1982 publication, Trouper Cooper's Curry Cookbook (William Collins Publishers, Auckland 1982). At the time, Cooper ran a successful Curry restaurant in Auckland, New Zealand, Trouper Cooper's Curry House. He also wrote The Parnell Cookbook.
Sharon Hutchings (née McPeake) is a former high jumper from Northern Ireland. She won a silver medal at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh with a lifetime best of 1.90 m (6 ft 2 3⁄4 in).
McPeake was born in Ballymena and was a member of Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club. As a 17-year-old in 1979, she finished third at the AAA Championships with 1.73 metres. In 1981, she finished third at the UK National Championships with a clearance of 1.83m. In 1982, McPeake competed at her first Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, finishing ninth with 1.74m. In 1985, she finished second at the UK Championships, behind fellow Northern Irish athlete Janet Boyle.
The best season of McPeake's career came in 1986. She finished second behind Diana Davies at both the UK Championships and AAAs Championships with 1.80m. Then at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, representing Northern Ireland, she achieved her lifetime best of 1.90m to win the silver medal, defeating teammate Janet Boyle and England's Diana Davies on countback. The competition, which was won by Australia's Christine Stanton with 1.92m, remains one of the highest quality Commonwealth high jump competitions in history, with nine jumpers clearing 1.83 m or better. She also competed at the European Championships in Stuttgart, where she was eliminated in the qualifying round. In 1987, she again finished second at the AAAs Championships with 1.85m. Her season's best for the year was 1.89m.
In 1988, now competing as Sharon Hutchings, she narrowly missed Olympic selection for Seoul. At the AAAs Championships incorporating the Olympic trials, with the top two guaranteed selection, she was third, losing second place on countback. The competition was won by Janet Boyle with 1.91m, while both Hutchings and 19-year-old Jo Jennings cleared the Olympic qualifying standard of 1.88m. The third Olympic spot went to that years UK number one Diana Davies, who had cleared 1.9 m a month before the trials.
In 1989, she won the AAAs Indoor Championships title with 1.82m, to defeat Debbie Marti on countback. She earned selection for the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland in January, where she finished 13th with 1.80m. Auckland would prove to be the conclusion of her international career. Her best of 1.90m from 1986 ranks her (as of 2017) 20th on the UK all-time list and second behind Janet Boyle on the Northern Irish all-time list.
McPeake married fellow international athlete Tim Hutchings in 1987. Among his achievements is a fourth-place finish in the 5000 metres final at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and winning silver medals at the World Cross Country Championships in 1984 and 1989. They have two children, Laura and Jamie.
Christine Louise Lampard
Christine Louise Lampard
Christine Louise Lampard (née Bleakley) is a broadcaster from Newtownards, Northern Ireland. She has presented various television programmes with Adrian Chiles, such as The One Show and Daybreak, while with Phillip Schofield she has presented Dancing on Ice and This Morning. Lampard has also presented factual series for ITV including Off The Beaten Track and Wild Ireland. Since 2016 she has been a presenter of the ITV lunchtime chat show Loose Women.
Christine Bleakley was born in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, and grew up in Newtownards. She has a younger sister, Nicola. She started her television career as a runner and then trained to become a floor manager while studying for her A-Levels at Bloomfield Collegiate School in Ballyhackamore, Belfast. She continued to work at BBC NI while studying for a politics degree at Queen's University, Belfast. However, she did not complete her degree course, and instead moved into television work full-time.
In October 2009, after attending the Pride of Britain Awards, she began a relationship with footballer Frank Lampard. The couple married in 2015. She assumed her husband's surname. Through her marriage to Lampard, she has two stepdaughters. Lampard announced in May 2018 that she and her husband were having their first baby together. On 21st September 2018, Lampard gave birth to a baby girl (Patricia Charlotte Lampard). On 9th January 2021 she announced her second pregnancy via Instagram.
Lampard is a Northern Ireland ambassador for The Prince's Trust. In 2010, she did a water skiing challenge, raising £1,321,623 for Sport Relief, making her the first person ever to water-ski across the English Channel.
In the same year, her co-host on The One Show, Adrian Chiles grew a beard, which was later shaved off by Lampard for Sport Relief, raising £60,000 in the process.
In 2012, Lampard took part in a 5 km run for Cancer Research UK with Heidi Range and Roxanne Pallett.
Lampard is a patron for the Sparks children's charity. In 2015, she hosted the charity's winter ball alongside Jon Culshaw. She also supported the Text Santa appeal and presented their annual telethon from 2011 until 2015.
Katie Morrow is a 4.5 point British wheelchair basketball player who was the youngest player selected for Team GB wheelchair basketball team at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Katie Morrow was born on 20 September 1999. She has an older brother. She is from County Antrim in Northern Ireland. She attended Cullybackey College.
As a swimmer she broke the Irish record in her age group in the freestyle relay event in 2012. She was introduced to wheelchair basketball in 2013 by Phil Robinson, the Wheelchair Basketball Performance Officer at Disability Sport Northern Ireland. She was soon playing in the Lord's Taverners Junior League, the BWB National Leagues, the National Junior Championships, the Celtic Cup, and Sainsbury’s School Games.
As of 2016, she is a 4.5 point player, who plays for the Sheffield Steelers in the Women's League and Knights WBC in the National League.
Morrow made her debut with the senior national team at the Continental Clash in 2015, and later that year made her international debut as part of the U25 team at the 2015 Women's U25 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship in Beijing, where it won gold. This was followed by the European Wheelchair Basketball Championship in Worcester, where Great Britain won bronze, and the 2016 Osaka Cup, where it won silver. She won the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Junior Sportsperson of the Year award in March 2016, and in May 2016, she was named as part of Team GB for the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. At 16, she was the youngest player on the team. The British team produced its best ever performance at the Paralympics, making it all the way to the semi-finals, but lost to the semi-final to the United States, and then the bronze medal match to the Netherlands.
Mike Bull OBE
Mike Bull OBE
Mike Bull is a retired male pole vaulter and decathlete from Northern Ireland. He set his personal best in the pole vault (5.25 metres) on 22 September 1973 at a meet in London.
Mike first achieved success in 1966, winning silver for the pole vault at the Commonwealth Games. Then in 1970, he won gold at the Commonwealth Games. He appeared in 69 internationals for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and captained the team on numerous occasions. In 1991, he won the World Masters (over 40) pole vault in Finland.
Upon retirement from professional athletics, Mike lectured on sports studies and provided sports commentary for UTV (Ulster Television). He opened his own gym in Dufferin Avenue, Bangor, County Down (Northern Ireland), Mike’s Health Gym (now Paul's Gym), and was a fitness adviser for the Irish Rugby Football Union.
In 2012 Mike was awarded the OBE by the Queen for services to sport and charity.
In 2014 Mike was awarded the accolade of "Britain's Greatest Ever Pole-vaulter" in World renowned athletics magazine Athletics Weekly by leading statistician Mel Watman.
Patrick Anthony Jennings OBE
Patrick Anthony Jennings OBE
Pat Jennings OBE is a former footballer from Northern Ireland. He played 119 international matches for Northern Ireland as a goalkeeper, in an international career which lasted for over 22 years.
During his career Jennings played for Newry Town, Watford, and in the top division with Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, winning the FA Cup with both of the north London rivals. In total, Jennings made over 1,000 top level appearances, and despite being a goalkeeper he scored in the 1967 FA Charity Shield.
After playing for Shamrock Rovers' under-18 side at the age of 11, Jennings concentrated on Gaelic football until he was sixteen years old, when he made his football comeback with his hometown side Newry Town. After impressing with the team he moved to English Third Division side Watford in May 1963. Jennings again impressed in his first season in England, playing every league game for his club, and making two international appearances that season. He was signed by Tottenham Hotspur for £27,000 in June 1964.
Jennings spent thirteen years at White Hart Lane, where he played in 472 league games for Spurs, and 591 in all competitions. He won the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973, and the UEFA Cup in 1972. He also scored once, in the 1967 Charity Shield, from his own area, kicking the ball from his hands and sending a large punt down the field that bounced over Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney and into the net. In 1973 the Football Writers' Association named him as its footballer of the year. Three years later he won PFA's version of the award – he was the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, and to this date remains only one of two, along with Peter Shilton.
In August 1977, he was transferred to Tottenham's arch-rivals, Arsenal, with Tottenham thinking he was nearing the end of his career. However, Jennings saw off rivals for the goalkeeper's jersey to play for Arsenal for another eight years. Whilst at Highbury, he helped Arsenal to four Cup finals in three successive years; the FA Cup final in 1978, 1979, and 1980, as well as the European Cup Winners Cup final that year. However, Arsenal only managed to win the second of these finals, a 3–2 victory against Manchester United. In total, Jennings made 327 appearances for Arsenal, 237 of them in the League, between 1977 and his eventual retirement from first-team club football in 1985. On 26 February 1983, he became the first player in English football to make 1,000 senior appearances, celebrating this milestone with a clean sheet in a goalless league draw for Arsenal at West Bromwich Albion.
After his retirement, Jennings returned to Tottenham Hotspur, playing mostly in their reserve side to maintain his match sharpness for Northern Ireland's 1986 World Cup campaign. His final appearance for Tottenham was in the Football League Super Cup against Liverpool in January 1986. He was also briefly on Everton's books, having been signed as goalkeeping cover for the 1986 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, Neville Southall having been injured playing for Wales.
Jennings made his Northern Ireland debut as an eighteen-year-old, whilst playing for Watford. This game, on 15 April 1964, was a British Home Championship match against Wales, Northern Ireland won the game 3–2; George Best made his international debut in the same game. Despite retiring from club football in 1985, Jennings played his final international game at the 1986 World Cup, on his 41st birthday, making him at the time the World Cup's oldest-ever participant. The match was Northern Ireland's final group game, a 3–0 defeat against Brazil. In total, Jennings participated in the qualifying stages of six World Cups between 1966 and 1986.
Following his retirement Jennings has worked as a goalkeeping coach. He has worked at Tottenham in this capacity since 1993. In 2003 Jennings was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the skills he demonstrated in the English league. His son, also named Pat, is also a goalkeeper, having played for League of Ireland clubs University College Dublin, Derry City, Shamrock Rovers and NIFL Premiership club Glenavon.
Jennings and his family have lived for many years in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, where his son attended The Broxbourne School along with the sons of fellow Spurs players Chris Hughton, Osvaldo Ardiles and Ray Clemence. He is still associated with Spurs and hosts Corporate Hospitality fans in the Pat Jennings Lounges at White Hart Lane and Windsor Park, Belfast.
Dennis Taylor snooker commentator and former professional snooker player from Northern Ireland. He is best known for winning the 1985 World Snooker Championship, where he recovered from 0–8 behind in the final to defeat Steve Davis 18–17 on the black ball. The conclusion to the match attracted 18.5 million viewers, setting UK viewership records for any post-midnight broadcast and for any broadcast on BBC Two.
Taylor was runner-up at the 1979 World Snooker Championship, where he lost the final 16–24 to Terry Griffiths. He reached the highest ranking of his career in 1979–1980, when he was second in the world. He won his other ranking title at the 1984 Grand Prix, where he defeated Cliff Thorburn 10–2 in the final, and won the invitational 1987 Masters, defeating Alex Higgins 9–8 in the final. He made the highest break of his career at the 1987 Carling Challenge, a 141.
During his playing career, Taylor wore distinctive specially designed glasses manufactured for snooker, often described as looking upside-down, giving him a unique look on the circuit. Since retiring from the professional tour, he has played on the World Seniors Tour and has featured as a commentator on BBC snooker broadcasts. He appeared on the third series of Strictly Come Dancing, finishing eighth alongside dance partner Izabela Hannah.
Born on 19 January 1949 in Coalisland, Northern Ireland, Taylor was the son of a lorry driver, and had six siblings. As an amateur, he won the 1968 British Junior Billiards Championship. Taylor turned professional in 1972. That season he made his debut in the World Snooker Championship at the 1973 event, losing 8–9 to Cliff Thorburn in the first round.
Over the next few years, Taylor reached the semi-finals at the event in 1975 where he lost 12–19 to Eddie Charlton, and 1977, losing to Thorburn 18–16. Two years later he reached the 1979 final, but lost 16–24 to qualifier Terry Griffiths. He reached his highest world ranking for the following season, second behind Steve Davis.
He reached the semi-final for a third time in 1984, losing to Davis. His mother died as he was beginning the new season at the 1984 Jameson International. He retired from the event before his quarter-final match against Silvino Francisco. However, he won the first ranking event of his career at the 1984 Grand Prix later that year defeating Thorburn 10–2 in the final.
Following his first ranking tournament victory, Taylor played in the 1985 World Championship. Seeded 11th for the tournament, he defeated Francisco in the opening round 10–2, Eddie Charlton 13–6 in the second round, Cliff Thorburn 13–5, and Tony Knowles 16–5 to reach the final. In the final, he played three-time winner and world number one Steve Davis. In the four session match, he trailed 0–7 after the first, but bounced back to trail 7–9 overnight after the second. Never being ahead, he took the match to a deciding frame with the scores tied at 17–17. Trailing at 62–44 to Davis in the deciding frame with five coloured balls remaining. He potted a long brown ball, which he says was one of his best ever shots under pressure. He also potted the blue and pink to bring the score to 62–59 with one ball, worth seven points, remaining. Both players missed a shot on the black, but it was finally potted by Taylor to win the championship.
The final is considered by many to be the greatest snooker match in history and was broadcast to a peak audience of 18 million viewers in the United Kingdom. As of 2020 this is the highest viewership of any broadcast after midnight in the country, and a record for any programme shown on BBC2.
After retiring from the Tour, Taylor plays matches on the World Seniors Tour and been a commentator and analyst for snooker events for the BBC. In 1998, while working with the experienced commentator Clive Everton, Everton made an error around the amount of snookers required for a player to win. Taylor described Everton as being so exasperated with his own error that he leant back in his chair only to fall backwards out of the commentary booth and in the process reached out and grabbed Taylor by the necktie. The tie was pulled so hard, that it was later cut off to allow Taylor to continue commentary.
Taylor made regular guest appearances on snooker television show game show Big Break. In 2005 he took part in the third series of Strictly Come Dancing, reaching eighth place with his partner Izabela Hannah. In February 1990, Taylor opened the Royal Mail sorting office in Blackburn, Lancashire before playing a single-frame challenge match. Taylor currently lives in Llay near Wrexham. His son Damien is a professional golf coach. Taylor supports Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United.
Margaret Johnston MBE
Margaret Johnston MBE
Margaret Johnson MBE is a former lawn and indoor bowler from Northern Ireland.
Johnston is arguably the greatest women's player of all time despite only starting outdoor bowling in 1979.
From Bellaghy, County Londonderry, she joined an indoor club and played locally for many years before joining the Ballymoney Club. In her first year of the outdoors game Johnston reached the final of the Irish Singles.
Her record in the World Outdoor Bowls Championship reads as six golds, two silver and one bronze. In 1988 she was pairs champion with Phillis Nolan, silver in the singles and bronze in the team. Four years later she won the singles and pairs (with Nolan again) and a silver in the team. In 1996 she won a third consecutive pairs title with Nolan and four years later in the 2000 World Outdoor Bowls Championship she became singles Champion again. Finally in the 2004 World Outdoor Bowls Championship she won a record third singles title.
Johnston won the pairs gold medal with Freda Elliott at the 1986 Commonwealth Games and eight years later won a second gold medal after winning the singles competition in Canada. She represented Northern Ireland ins six consecutive Commonwealth Games from 1986 until 2006. In between the two gold medal successes was a bronze medal in the singles at the 1990 Games.
The first Irish National Bowls Championships title came in 1983 and then she went from strength to strength creating an incredible record. She turned back the clock in 2017 when she won the fours title at the Irish National Championships.
Johnston also holds the record number for women's singles titles at the British Isles Bowls Championships, winning four in 1985, 1996, 1997 & 1999. In addition to her World outdoor and Commonwealth titles she was also the 2004 World Singles Champion of Champions.
She was voted BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year in 2004 and in 2008 announced her retirement from international bowls.
William Caulfield is a writer, actor, comedian and TV performer from Lurgan, County Armagh.
He was educated at Kings Park Primary, Lurgan Junior High School and Lurgan College and achieved popularity through his TV, radio and theatre shows.
His popularity began on BBC Radio Ulster in 1991 when he began writing and broadcasting humorous monologues as The Bard of Tyrone. Over a period of six years he wrote and performed over 200 poems. As a direct result of this he was asked to appear at the Belfast Festival at Queens University Belfast (QUB) and on the BBC Radio Ulster programme, Laugh a Minute.
Caulfield became one of the busiest warm up men for both BBC and UTV on shows such as The Kelly Show Get it Right Next Time, Town Challenge, The Daniel O'Donnell Show, Give my Head Peace, Saints and Scholars, Scots Irish Evenings and The 11+ Show.
He has appeared on The Gerry Kelly Show, McKeever Show and All Mixed Up for UTV and Pass it On, Town Challenge and The Big Science Quiz for the BBC. He interviewed Jade Goody for Channel 4 in What Jade Did Next.
He then made a decision to stop doing warm up and concentrate on making his own shows for television and radio. This resulted in An Evening with James Young and a four-part series Our William, both on BBC 1 NI. Most recently for BBC Radio Ulster he co-wrote and starred in It's William Caulfield- so it is, a sketch based comedy series for Radio Ulster, nominated for a PPI Radio Award, William Caulfield's Workers Party which was recorded in various factories around the province. Caulfield was Team Captain on the comedy panel show Either/Or.
Caulfield is well established in theatre playing Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Frank in Annie Get Your Gun, all for Enniskillen's Light Operatic Society. Other stage roles include Look Who's Talking, Da and Playboy of the Western World.
He has appeared in Pantomime in Belfast in the Waterfront Hall (2001–2003), Grand Opera House (2004–2005) and returns now each year to the Millennium Forum in Londonderry since 2006.
As a busy stand up comedian he has toured around the region with a brand new show every year since 2000 using material that is family friendly. He now works regularly around the world as a guest entertainer onboard various cruise ships.
Colin George Blakely
Colin George Blakely
Colin George Blakely was an actor from Northern Ireland.
Born in Bangor, County Down, Blakely attended Sedbergh School in Yorkshire (now Cumbria). At the age of 18 he started work in his family's sports goods shop (the Athletic Stores on the corner of Wellington Place and Queen Street in Belfast), before going on to work as a timber-loader on the railways. In 1957, after a spell of amateur dramatics with the Bangor Drama Club, he turned professional with the Group Theatre, Belfast.
In 1957, at the age of 27, Blakely made his stage debut as Dick McCardle in Master of the House. He also appeared in several Ulster Group Theatre productions, including Gerard McLarnon's Bonefire (1958) and Patricia O'Connor's A Sparrow Falls (1959). From 1957 to 1959 he was at the Royal Court Theatre, appearing in Cock-A-Doodle Dandy, Serjeant Musgrave's Dance and, to critical approval, The Naming of Murderers Rock. In 1961, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon and from 1963 to 1968 was with the National Theatre at the Old Vic. On television, Blakely appeared in the "Armchair Theatre" series in 1962, episode "The Hard Knock" and director Charles Crichton unusually cast Blakely in two different roles during the same run of episodes of the 1967 series Man in a Suitcase.
In 1969, Blakely's controversial role as Jesus Christ in Dennis Potter's Son of Man gained him wide recognition. From that time onwards, he was a regular on British television, and in the same year played the leading role in a BBC adaptation of Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now.
Among the many stage plays in which he appeared were The Recruiting Officer, Saint Joan, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Filumena Marturano, Volpone and Oedipus. He returned to the Royal Shakespeare in 1972 in Harold Pinter's Old Times and was subsequently in many West End plays.
Notable film roles included Maurice Braithwaite in This Sporting Life (1963), Vahlin in The Long Ships (1964), Sir Thomas More's house servant Matthew in A Man for All Seasons (1966), Dr. Watson to Robert Stephens's Holmes in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), and Joseph Stalin in Jack Gold's Red Monarch (1983). In the 1975 British film, It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet, derived from the James Herriot books, Blakely played the eccentric Siegfried Farnon. He also appeared in Young Winston (1972), The National Health (1973), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Equus (1977), The Dogs of War (1980), Nijinsky (1980) and Evil Under the Sun (1982).
A noted Shakespearean actor, Blakely appeared on television as Antony in Antony and Cleopatra (1981), directed by Jonathan Miller as part of the BBC Television Shakespeare series; and as Kent in the 1983 Granada Television version of King Lear which starred Laurence Olivier. Other television appearances included Loophole (1981), The Beiderbecke Affair (1985), Operation Julie (1985) and Paradise Postponed (1986).
Blakely was married to British actress
Margaret Whiting for 26 years and had three sons, including twins. He died of leukaemia at the peak of his career as a noted character actor, aged just 56.
Keith Robert Gillespie
Keith Robert Gillespie
Keith Gillespie is a footballer from Northern Ireland who plays as a winger for FC Mindwell in the Mid-Ulster Football League.
He began his career at Manchester United after winning the FA Youth Cup in 1992, before moving to Newcastle United, where he played in the UEFA Champions League. Gillespie also played in the Premier League for Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Sheffield United, helping Blackburn win the Football League Cup in 2002. Towards the end of his career, he played for Glentoran in the Irish League and Longford Town in the League of Ireland.
Gillespie earned 86 caps for Northern Ireland between 1994 and 2008, putting him 6th in their most capped players of all time.
Gillespie was born in Larne, County Antrim. His first years were spent in Islandmagee, County Antrim where he attended Whitehead Primary School. He later moved to Bangor, County Down where he attended Rathmore Primary School and Bangor Grammar School. He was scouted playing for St Andrews FC from Belfast, and was the first professional footballer to come from this club.
Gillespie signed for Manchester United on leaving school in the summer of 1991, being a member of the FA Youth Cup winning side in 1992. Also in that team were Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville and Robbie Savage.
Gillespie made his first senior appearance for Manchester United in the 1992–93 season. He scored on his debut against Bury in a 2–0 FA Cup third round triumph on 5 January 1993. He was issued with the number 31 shirt for the 1993–94 season with the introduction of squad numbers, but did not play any first team games and was loaned to Division Three club Wigan Athletic, scoring four goals in eight games.
Occasional appearances for United followed in 1994–95, but he was never able to displace Andrei Kanchelskis as United's first-choice right winger.
He moved to Newcastle United on 10 January 1995, as a £1 million component in the £7 million deal (£6 million cash) which took Andrew Cole to Old Trafford. Gillespie had scored one of United's goals against Newcastle in the 2–0 victory at Old Trafford. This meant that he had scored twice for Manchester United in three seasons as a professional.
On 20 August 1995, the News of the World carried reports that Gillespie was subject of an approach from Alex Ferguson to return to Manchester United to fill the gap on the right wing being left by the sale of Andrei Kanchelskis to Everton, but the return to Old Trafford never happened and United instead turned to up-and-coming youngster David Beckham to occupy that position. 18 years later, Gillespie confirmed that Ferguson did contact him regarding a possible return to Manchester United, but claims that he heard nothing more about the prospective transfer after that original telephone conversation with his former manager.
Gillespie stayed at Newcastle for three-and-a-half years and during this time he played 143 games, including 15 European ties (in both the Champions League and UEFA Cup) and scored 13 goals. In both the 1995–96 and 1996–97 seasons he helped Newcastle to finish second in the Premier League (runners up to Gillespie's former club, Manchester United, on both occasions), being a key member of "The Entertainers". On the first occasion, the Magpies very nearly beat Gillespie's old club to the title, having been 10 points ahead of them by Christmas 1995 before a dismal final three months of the season saw the title sealed by Gillespie's former team mates. Initially injured from a Phil Neville tackle in a 0–2 defeat at Old Trafford on 27 December 1995 causing him to miss the following three games, at the end of the 1995–96 season Gary Lineker, then a BBC pundit, said that one of the main reasons that Newcastle lost out on the title race was because they dropped Gillespie (who had been supplying Newcastle's forwards with a stream of good crosses) for several key games in the latter part of the season.
In his final full season at Newcastle, the 1997–98 season, Gillespie put in arguably his best performance for the club when assisting two of Faustino Asprilla's three goals in a 3–2 Champions League victory over FC Barcelona on 17 September 1997. He also scored what he later claimed was his best goal for the club when playing up front due to an injury crisis at home to Blackburn Rovers in 1-1 draw on 25 October 1997. He also helped Newcastle to reach the FA Cup final. However, a foot injury sustained in a 0–2 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur F.C on 25 April 1998 meant, despite a fitness test, he was not in the squad for the final and Newcastle lost to Arsenal. Despite being in manager Kenny Dalglish plans, the following pre-season Gillespie failed a medical at Middlesbrough F.C but eventually departed Tyneside in a £2.3 million move to Blackburn Rovers following the appointment of Ruud Gullit as manager and a final appearance in a 2–2 draw at Middlesbrough on 6 December 1998.
Five seasons at Ewood Park brought another 138 games and 6 goals as well as another loan spell at Wigan Athletic, bringing his total appearances for Athletic to 15 from which he scored 4 goals. He then moved to Leicester City on a free transfer playing 48 games and scoring two goals in two seasons. In his time at Blackburn he started in the 2002 Football League Cup Final in which they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2–1.
Gillespie signed for Sheffield United on 5 August 2005, signing a one-year contract. This was then extended to June 2007 a month later. In his first season at the club, Gillespie played a role in Sheffield United's successful promotion campaign to the Premier League. Gillespie's most memorable goal for Sheffield United came against Charlton, where he scored the winner in the 88th minute with a stunning volley from 25 yards. This goal was also a nominee for the December Goal of the Month competition, which Paul Scholes eventually won.
On 20 January 2007, during a Premier League match against Reading at the Madejski Stadium, Gillespie was sent off for violent conduct, "throwing an elbow in the direction of" Reading's Stephen Hunt, "within 10 seconds" of coming on as a substitute. As he made his way off the pitch, Gillespie "threw another punch" at Hunt. He submitted a transfer request soon afterwards, but in July of that year Gillespie recanted and signed a new two-year contract.
In July 2008, he limped out of a pre-season friendly at Bury and missed the start of the 2008–09 season. Having regained fitness he was unable to regain a first team place and was eventually loaned out to Charlton Athletic. He made only six appearances for the Addicks before being recalled to Bramall Lane as cover for mounting injuries.
Despite being recalled to Sheffield United, Gillespie failed to make another appearance and on 30 January 2009 his contract was terminated by mutual consent. He went to Bradford City with whose manager Stuart McCall; Gillespie had been a teammate at Sheffield United. However, McCall insisted Gillespie was only training with the club to stay fit and help out the younger players, and not on trial.
Gillespie impressed McCall during training and told the manager he was very keen to gain match experience; as a result, Gillespie signed for Bradford City in March for the rest of the 2008–09 season. Gillespie was an unused substitute in their 1–0 defeat to Exeter City and so had to wait for his debut which came as a second-half substitute with City already 4–1 down to Bournemouth three days later. After just three appearances Gillespie was not offered a long-term deal by Bradford City. In the summer of 2009 he had a trial with Hungarian side Ferencváros and had been linked with a move to the IFA Premiership.
In 2009, Gillespie made a shock move to the east Belfast club, Glentoran. It was believed that Gillespie's agents approached Glentoran. He made his debut for Glentoran against Ballymena United in the league, he had previously played for Glentoran the night before for the reserves against Ballymena; Glentoran lost 2–1 in his 1st senior appearance for, at the time, the current league champions. In June 2010, the club announced that Gillespie was to leave after just one season after he and the club failed to agree terms on a new deal.
In August 2010 his ex international teammate Michael O'Neill invited Gillespie to play in a friendly for Shamrock Rovers in a reserve game versus his first club. In October 2010, Gillespie joined up with Conference National side Darlington, later signing with the club.He made three appearances before being released on 23 December 2010. On 24 March 2011, Gillespie signed for League of Ireland First Division side Longford Town. Gillespie made his debut from the bench in a local derby against Athlone Town on 2 April with Gillespie's new side coming out on top by two goals to nil. He was named on the League of Ireland First Division team of the season for 2012 and was also awarded Longford Town F.C. player of the year.
Gillespie scored his one and only Longford goal in May 2013 against Cobh Ramblers. Injuries hampered Gillespie during the 2013 season and he announced his retirement prior to the season's end. His final appearance was as a substitute during Longford's 3–1 victory at home to Finn Harps on 7 September 2013.
Gillespie came out of retirement in 2020, aged 45, to play for newly-formed Mid-Ulster Football League side FC Mindwell.
Gillespie is currently sixth place in the list of appearances for Northern Ireland with 86 caps. He made his debut in September 1994 in a 2–1 home defeat by Portugal. He played an important role in his country's 3–2 qualifying win against Spain at Windsor Park on 6 September 2006. His final cap was won in a 2–0 defeat by Hungary at Windsor Park in November 2008.
Adrian Dunbar is from from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. He is an actor and a director, known for both his television and his theatre work. Dunbar co-wrote and starred in the 1991 film Hear My Song, nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the BAFTA awards.
Since 2012, he has played Superintendent Ted Hastings in all six series of BBC Television's Line of Duty He has appeared as Alan Cox in The Jump, Martin Summers in Ashes to Ashes, Richard Plantagenet in The Hollow Crown, and as Father Flaherty in Broken.
Dunbar was born and brought up in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland, the eldest of seven siblings. He was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers before attending the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
Dunbar has appeared in such notable films as My Left Foot, The Crying Game and The General. He has also had leading roles in the films Triggermen, Shooters, How Harry Became A Tree (with Colm Meaney), Richard III and Widows' Peak.
On television he starred in the first episode of Cracker, giving a performance as an innocent murder suspect with amnesia, and also the last episode of A Touch of Frost. He has been in many British productions, including Tough Love, Inspector Morse, Kidnapped, Murphy's Law, Murder in Mind, Ashes to Ashes and the 2005 re-staging of The Quatermass Experiment.
Dunbar's theatre credits include The Shaughraun and Exiles at Dublin's Abbey Theatre; Real Dreams and The Danton Affair at the Royal Shakespeare Company; King Lear, Pope's Wedding, Saved and Up To The Sun And Down To The Centre at Royal Court Theatre and Conversations on a Homecoming at the Lyric Theatre (Belfast); A Trinity of Two (as Oscar Wilde) at Dublin's Liberty Hall Theatre; and Boeing Boeing (London, 2007). He has directed a critically acclaimed production of Philadelphia Here I Come!.
In 2008 he starred in and co-directed Brendan at the Chelsea by Janet Behan, playing Brendan Behan. The play was the first to be staged in the Naughton Studio in the new Lyric Theatre (Belfast) after it reopened in 2011, and was revived for a tour to Theatre Row in New York in September 2013.
Dunbar played the role of Aufidius in the BBC Radio production of Coriolanus. He also made a guest appearance in the BBC Radio 4 series Baldi, and appeared on stage as Vermeer in an adaptation of Girl with a Pearl Earring.
In 2008 Dunbar played the role of Philip Conolly in the critically acclaimed The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce. He starred alongside fellow Northern Irish actor Ciarán McMenamin in the remote rain-forests of north west Tasmania. He joined the cast of the British police procedural television series Line of Duty in 2012, portraying the role of Superintendent Ted Hastings; he continued in this role for all the subsequent series.
Dunbar is also a theatre director who staged productions for the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival.
He played the mysterious character Martin Summers in the second series of Ashes to Ashes. In 2014 he played the title character in a BBC comedy drama Walter.
Dunbar also starred as Jim Hogan on the Virgin Media Television original drama Blood.
Dunbar has a daughter and stepson from his 1986 marriage to Australian actress Anna Nygh. He lives in Crouch End, North London. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Ulster in June 2009 in recognition of his services to acting.
Stephen Robert Dunlop
Stephen Robert Dunlop
Robert Dunlop was a motorcycle racer from Northern Ireland, the younger brother of fellow road racer, the late Joey Dunlop, and like Joey he died after a crash while racing. His son William sustained fatal injuries as a result of a crash during practice at the Skerries 100 in Dublin on 7 July 2018.
The son of Willie and May Dunlop, he was mentored by close friend Liam Beckett. Married to Louise, the couple had three sons, William, Michael and Daniel. William and Michael both became motorcycle racers.
After an apprenticeship on short circuits, the teenage Dunlop made his road race debut at the 1979 Temple 100. His first appearance at the Cookstown 100 came in 1980, riding a 347 cm3 Yamaha. His first professional race, where he was fully sponsored was at Aghadowey in 1981.
Dunlop then began a record breaking run at the Cookstown 100, where his first win came in the 1985 250 cm3 race. Riding an ECM, he averaged 88.57 mph to take the chequered flag ahead of Gary Cowan (EMC) and Noel Hudson (Rotax). His most successful year was 1987 when he scooped the prestigious "Man of the Meeting", winning 125 cm3, 350 cm3 and 1000 cm3 races. Four more 125 cm3 victories followed in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993; a total of eight victories in the event.
He won the Macau Grand Prix in 1989 on a Honda 500, beating Phillip McCallen and Steve Hislop, both on Honda 750's.
In 1990 he joined the JPS Norton racing team on the RCW588, which was powered by a Wankel engine. On short circuits Dunlop notched one of the three MCN Supercup wins, the other two by Terry Rymer. Dunlop notched a double in Northern Ireland's North West 200 and finished third in the F1 Isle of Man TT.
In 1994, Dunlop suffered a major accident on the Isle of Man Formula One TT, when the back wheel of his 750 cm3 Honda RC45 collapsed in a long left turn, just after he took the jump over Ballaugh Bridge. Dunlop suffered multiple injuries and was lucky to have survived the high-speed crash. A long stay in hospital, followed by protracted recuperation, meant Dunlop was out of action for the remainder of 1994 and all of 1995.
Many believed that Dunlop's racing career was over, and he was left with severe tendon damage which restricted movement, and a shortened leg from the accident. Afterwards accepting his injuries and resultantly restricting his competition entries from then on to the 125 cm3 class, Dunlop was determined to return. Dunlop chose the Cookstown 100 on 20 April 1996, and although still not fully fit, took ninth place in the 125 cm3 race won by brother Joey. He was never to win the main Cookstown 100 race again, but returned every year in the 125 cm3 class: 3rd in 1997, 4th in 1998, 3rd in 2002 and 2nd in 2004.
Subject to severe insurance restrictions and costs due to his continual pain and deteriorating condition of his leg, and even questions in the Northern Ireland Assembly, on 16 December 2003 Dunlop announced that he would quit motorcycle racing after the 2004 season. Dunlop announced that he was hoping to win the Isle of Man TT and North West 200 before he quit, and that he intended to focus on his sons, William and Michael, and pass his motorcycling experience to them. Robert continued racing until his retirement at the 2004 Isle of Man TT races.
On 8 February 2005 he was the first person to be elected to the "Irish Motorcycle Hall of Fame". At the event, Dunlop announced that he was shortly to enter hospital to have his injured leg broken and lengthened, an inevitable conclusion to his 1994 Isle of Man TT accident. He also announced if all went well, he would love to return to motorcycle racing in 2006, sponsored by Patsy O'Kane in a last hurrah. Dunlop actually came back out of retirement during the 2005 road racing season.
Dunlop took his record-breaking 15th win at the 2006 North West 200 meeting. The Dunlop brothers between them also won a record number of races at the North West 200.
A winner on the course at his first attempt, Dunlop won the 1983 Newcomers 350 cm3 Manx Grand Prix. In 1989 he scored his first TT win in the 125 cm3 Class with a new lap record at 165.79 km/h (103.02 mph). In 1990 he repeated his success in the 125 with a new lap record at 167.52 km/h (104.09 mph), and third place in the Formula 1 TT on the Norton Rotary. In 1991 he scored a double victory taking the 125 cm3 Race for the third year in succession with a record at 166.86 km/h (103.68 mph) and a new lap record at 171.73 km/h (106.71 mph). He also won the Junior TT at 184.90 km/h (114.89 mph). In 1992 he finished 2nd in the 125 and 3rd in the Junior and Senior and in 1993 he finished 2nd in the 125.
In 1994 an accident at Ballaugh Bridge in the Formula 1 ended his week. He did not race again in the TT until 1997 in the 125 cm3 Race and took third place. In 1998 he won the Ultra-Lightweight race and in 1999 finished 5th. In 2000 he rode a Honda in the Ultra-Lightweight and brought it home in third place. Over his career, he finished on a TT podium 14 times.
On 8 February 2005 he was the first person to be elected to the "Irish Racer Magazine Hall of Fame".
In February 2006, it was announced that Dunlop and his brother Joey were honoured with Honorary Degrees from the University of Ulster, in light of their achievements in the field of motorcycle racing. On 4 July the pair were awarded honorary Doctorate of the University (DUniv) from the University of Ulster in Coleraine.
On 15 May 2008 Dunlop died after suffering severe chest injuries in a crash during a practice session at the North West 200. The fatal accident happened in the 250 cc qualifying as the riders approached the Mather's Cross section of the course. When the engine on his motorcycle seized he mistakenly hit the motorcycle's front brake, which was situated beside the clutch on his specially modified bike, he was subsequently thrown over the handlebars at approximately 300 km/h (160 mph). As he crashed, a following rider – Darren Burns – collided with him suffering a broken leg and concussion in the accident. Dunlop was taken to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine before succumbing to his injuries shortly after 22:00 local time. Dunlop had been racing in the 250 cc class that year for the first time since the 1994 Isle of Man TT. His son Michael went on to win the race and dedicated the victory to his father.
His funeral took place on 18 May 2008 at Garryduff Presbyterian Church in his home town of Ballymoney. Dunlop was laid to rest beside his brother, Joey.
Colin Murray is a sports and music radio and television presenter from Northern Ireland. In 2010, he became host of BBC Television's Match of the Day 2 on BBC Two, while still anchoring shows on BBC Radio 5 Live, including 5 Live Sport and Fighting Talk and was still presenting on BBC Radio Ulster. He has previously hosted regular Channel 5 television and BBC Radio 1 shows. In 2007, he was named 'Music Broadcaster of the Year' at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.
Born and raised in Dundonald Murray first trained and worked as a news journalist. With a passion for both music and sport, he later moved into music journalism and publishing, before making his national radio debut in 1999 on Radio 1 in a short spell co-hosting The Session music show. This was followed by a television debut in 2002 as one of six co-presenters on Channel 4's short-lived morning show RI:SE. From 2003 onwards Murray established himself as a music radio presenter on the weekday daytime Colin and Edith show, alongside Edith Bowman.
In 2006 Murray began his first role on BBC Radio 5 Live, hosting the sports-themed Saturday morning comedy panel game Fighting Talk, and also began presenting Channel 5's live UEFA Cup football coverage on midweek evenings. In 2006, he moved shows on Radio 1, departing Colin and Edith to front the late-night weekday evening music vehicle, The Colin Murray Show. In 2008, he also began presenting The Late Show with Colin Murray, a once-a-week late-night music show for Radio Ulster. The next year, he left Radio 1 to take on additional roles at 5 Live, hosting Kicking off with Colin Murray on Friday nights, and 5 Live Sport on Sunday afternoons. In 2010, he moved from presenting live football on Channel 5 to fronting the BBC's Match of the Day 2 Sunday night highlights show.
In 2013, he announced he was leaving BBC Radio 5 Live to move to commercial rival Talksport, taking up the 10 am – 1 pm slot vacated by Richard Keys and Andy Gray. Murray announced via Twitter in July 2016 that he was to leave Talksport in September 2016, following the takeover of the station by News Corp. He stated that the concomitant business links between Talksport and The Sun meant that, after the scandal of the Hillsborough disaster and of its coverage by The Sun, his position would be untenable owing to the feelings of Liverpool fans (including himself) towards that newspaper.
Since August 2017, Murray has hosted the Saturday night EFL television highlights show, first for Channel 5 in the 2017/18 season and since August 2018 for Quest on EFL on Quest.
Murray has been a fan of Liverpool and the Northern Ireland national team since childhood. He got five stars tattooed on his arm when Liverpool won the European Cup for the fifth time. He has also stated he is a Chester F.C. fan after falling in love with the club following their rise from closure and fronted by the fans. He was guest of honour at their end-of-season awards. On his role as both a football presenter and a fan, Murray said in 2009 that "The biggest stick I get when I'm presenting football is from Liverpool fans", and in 2010 "I like a laugh but I am serious also about football and the impartiality required to respect all football fans." Murray is also the Irish Football Association's Football for All ambassador.
Whilst living in Toronto, Canada, Murray became a supporter of the baseball team Toronto Blue Jays and a fan of Major League Baseball in general, and has since spent his annual summer holidays in North America watching MLB games. Murray is also a season ticket-holder at the Welsh club Pontypridd Town, with whom he has promoted tours across Spain, where Pontypridd played pre-season fixtures against Villarreal and Valencia.
Murray has won three Gold Sony Radio Academy Awards. In the 2007 Sony Awards he was named 'Music Broadcaster of the Year'; in the 2005 Awards he was given the Feature Award for a documentary, entitled The Trouble With Drugs, while in 2011 he took gold for best sport program, for Fighting Talk.
In 2002 Murray was named IPR Northern Ireland Entertainment Journalist of the Year, for his long-running music column in the Irish Sunday People.
Derek Austin Graham
Derek Austin Graham
Derek Graham is a retired distance athlete from Northern Ireland. The first Northern Irish runner to break 4 minutes for the mile, he was ranked number 1 in the U.K. and Ireland over 2 miles/3000 m, 3 miles/5000 m and cross country at various periods in the 1960s.
He was selected for nine consecutive International cross country races (later to be recognised as the World Cross country), finishing second in 1966 in Rabat, Morocco.
He competed in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for Great Britain, finishing seventh in his initial heat for the 5000m race.
He also competed in the 1966 European Championships, and the 1966 and 1970 Commonwealth Games.
But in the summer of 1967, Graham became a victim of a ruling by the then newly constituted Irish athletics governing body Bord Luthchleas na hEireann (BLE), which forbade athletes affiliated to the Northern Ireland Amateur Athletic Federation (NIAAF) from competing south of the border as splits which bedevilled the sport's history on the island again surfaced.
As he held down a full-time job at the time, Graham's inability to compete at the regular major meetings held in Dublin contributed to him missing out on selection for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.
In spite of that, he continued to set times faster than other Irish-born athletes over several distances - including a world's best half marathon time in 1970 which wasn't bettered for six years.
At the 1970 Commonwealth Games, Graham picked up a virus which later developed into myalgic encephalomyelitis, ultimately ending his athletics career.
George Raymond Stevenson
George Raymond Stevenson
Raymond Stevenson an actor from Northern Ireland. He is known for playing Dagonet in the film King Arthur (2004) and Titus Pullo in the BBC/HBO television series Rome (2005–2007). He has portrayed two Marvel Comics characters: Frank Castle / The Punisher in Punisher: War Zone and The Super Hero Squad Show, and Volstagg in Thor and its sequels Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. In the 2011 film Kill the Irishman, he portrayed mobster Danny Greene. In 2012, he appeared in the seventh season of Dexter as Isaak Sirko. He also portrayed the character Blackbeard in the third and fourth seasons of Black Sails. He voiced Gar Saxon in Star Wars Rebels from 2016 to 2017 and Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2020.
George Raymond Stevenson was born in Lisburn on 25 May 1964, the second of three sons born to an Northern Irish mother and a Northern Irish father who was a Royal Air Force pilot. He moved to England with his family at the age of eight, first settling in the Lemington area of Newcastle upon Tyne and later in Seaton Delaval. He attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating at the age of 29.
Stevenson made his film debut in The Theory of Flight (1998) as a gigolo hired to help Helena Bonham Carter's character lose her virginity. In 2002, he starred in the short film No Man's Land, which was the antipodal picture from actor/director Edward Hicks prior to his graduation from the London Film School. In the 12 minute film, set during World War I, Stevenson portrayed an experienced private who is forced to help a novice officer (David Birkin) back to safety after they both find themselves trapped and isolated in "No Man's Land" during the Battle of Ypres. In 2004, he starred in King Arthur as Dagonet, a knight of the round table who sacrifices his life for his comrades. His first leading role in a film was in the Scottish horror picture Outpost (2008), portraying a mercenary pitted against Nazi zombies in a bunker somewhere in Eastern Europe. That same year, he also starred in Punisher: War Zone, as Frank Castle / The Punisher, a former Marine turned vigilante after the murder of his family. In 2010, he played an antagonist in the comedy The Other Guys.
In 2011, Stevenson appeared in the film Kill the Irishman, based on the book To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia, as Danny Greene, the Irish American mobster who took on the Italian mob in Cleveland in the 1970s. He starred as Volstagg, one of Thor's trusted comrades, in the 2011 Marvel film Thor. Also that year, he played Porthos in Paul W.S. Anderson's adaptation of The Three Musketeers. He played Firefly in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, released in 2013. He appeared in the Finnish-American thriller film Big Game. In 2014, he starred in the film Divergent, based on the first book of The Divergent Series. He reprised his role in the sequels, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, released in March 2015, and The Divergent Series: Allegiant, released in March 2016. In 2019, he was announced as a lead antagonist in the movie RRR, a Telugu film directed by S.S.Rajamouli scheduled to release in 2021. This marks his debut in the Indian cinema.
Stevenson is known for playing legionary Titus Pullo in the BBC/HBO series Rome. Other television work includes guest appearances in popular series including Waking the Dead and Murphy's Law as well as lead roles in City Central and At Home with the Braithwaites. He has also appeared in several TV films such as Some Kind of Life in 1995, and The Return of the Native. Some of his earliest parts were in two Catherine Cookson films: The Dwelling Place (1994) and The Tide of Life (1996). Stevenson reprised his role this time as the voice of the Punisher in The Super Hero Squad Show and played the role of Isaak Sirko in the seventh season of Dexter in 2012.
On 24 March 2015, it was announced by producers that Stevenson would be joining the cast of the STARZ series Black Sails as the character Edward Teach.
Stevenson's stage work includes playing the part of Jesus Christ in the York Mystery Plays in 2000 at York Minster. In 2001, he took the part of Roger in the play Mouth to Mouth by Kevin Elyot, at the Albery Theatre in London with Lindsay Duncan and Michael Maloney. His most well-known part is perhaps that of the Cardinal in The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster with Janet McTeer at the Royal National Theatre in 2003.
In 1997, Stevenson married English actress Ruth Gemmell in London; they had met on the set of Band of Gold (1995), and later played a married couple in Peak Practice (1997). They divorced in 2005 after eight years of marriage. Since 2005, Stevenson has been in a relationship with Elisabetta Caraccia, with whom he has three sons.
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