ONCE again this year Fermanagh folk have featured heavily in the New Year Honours list, with a swathe of locals recognised for their dedication to the local community.
From businesswomen to local authors, victims campaigners to charity adventurers, childcare heroes to retired editors, almost a dozen members of the wider local community have been included in this year’s awards list with both MBEs (Member of the British Empire) and BEMs (British Empire Medals).
Mairead Mackle, originally from Aghadrumsee, was awarded an MBE for her “services to the economic development of Northern Ireland”. She is the founder and chief executive officer for Tarasis Enterprises.
Now living in Armagh, the mother-of-seven has won many awards over the years, including a National Special Recognition Award in London in 2018 for her commitment to family business and for her impact on the local community.
Renowned also for her charitable endeavours, Mrs Mackle owns and operates a diverse range of businesses across several industries including care, support, housing solutions, renewables and construction. She recently launched and co-authored a book in November, ‘Voices of Leadership’, encouraging and empowering women in business.
David Robert Martin Donaldson was awarded an MBE for his service to charity and the community.
The Enniskillen man has raised thousands for charity over the years. For example, since 2002 he has taken part in numerous international treks, including along the Inca Trail in Peru and the Canadian Rockies, to raise funds and awareness for Action Cancer.
Mr Donaldson is the owner and founder of LE Graphics. On Sunday the team at LE Graphics posted to social media congratulating him on his awarded, stating “well done to the ‘boss man’.”
Kenneth Ross Donaldson, director of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), was awarded an MBE for his services to the community.
Mr Donaldson said he was “shocked and a little embarrassed” when he learned he was to receive the award and said he “felt humbled anyone would have thought to put forward my name in this way.”
Having advocated for victims for over 15 years, Mr Donaldson dedicated his award to the “innocent victims and survivors of terrorism and other Troubles-related violence.”
Dr Mary Gordon McBride was awarded a BEM for her services to the community in Enniskillen.
Dr Gordon McBride is well known in the area, and is passionate about local history, compiling numerous books over the years. One of the most well known of her publications was the popular ‘Enniskillen in the Rare Ould Times.’
Frances Rebecca Hunter was awarded a BEM for her services to the community in Irvinestown, while Lorna Anne Moore Dane, from Enniskillen, was awarded a BEM for her services to girlguiding in Northern Ireland.
Just across the county border, Ann Elizabeth Margaret Thompson was awarded a BEM for her services to music and the community in Fintona, while Mary Elizabeth Joan McAuley from Trillick, who is an assistant at the Peter Pan Playgroup, was awarded a BEM for her services to pre-school education.
Wesley Atchison, retired editor of the Tyrone Constitution, was awarded a BEM for his services to journalism and the community.
Well known across Tyrone, the 66-year-old actually grew up near Ederney, living at the family home for around 30 years, and was very much involved in the Young Farmers Clubs circles locally. He was also one of the founding organisers of the Kesh Carnival back in the early 1980s.
Mr Atchison officially retired in 2020 after 46 years working in newspapers. He said he was extremely grateful to be nominated and recognised.
Finally, well known Belleek author Joseph Thomas O’Loughlin was awarded a BEM for his services to World War II history in Fermanagh.
Mr O’Loughlin’s daughter Nora O’Loughlin told the Herald the entire family was thrilled about the award. As for her father, she said “he’s delighted, he’s very proud.”
Ms O’Loughlin said her father, who has published numerous local history books, was delighted when his friend Breege McCusker, who received a BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last year for her services to World War II history locally, came to congratulate him. The pair have done a lot of work together over the years.
Overall, Ms O’Loughlin said it was lovely for her 89-year-old father to get the recognition for his hard work over the years.
“He’s very determined, and that has stood him in good stead. When he commits to something he really commits, and his capacity to retain information is pretty amazing,” she said, adding praise for ther mother Ina also. “My mum was a great support, behind every great man is a great woman.”
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