Queen’s Jubilee celebrations continue across Northern Ireland

·3-min read
Noah McKnight, five dressed as a Foot Guard, with a cardboard cut-out of the Queen (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)
Noah McKnight, five dressed as a Foot Guard, with a cardboard cut-out of the Queen (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations continued in parts of Northern Ireland on Sunday.

Thousands of people have been marking the occasion with events including  church services, live music and street parties.

In Omagh, Co Tyrone, there was a double celebration as the local RAF Air Cadets were honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service as well as marking the Queen’s Jubilee.

The QAVS is the highest award given to local volunteer groups in the UK.

George McGaffin and his wife Lorna attend a picnic at St Bartholomew’s Parish Church, Newry, as part of the Big Jubilee Lunch (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)
George McGaffin and his wife Lorna attend a picnic at St Bartholomew’s Parish Church, Newry, as part of the Big Jubilee Lunch (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)

Squadron Leader Graham Dodds, media communications officer for RAF cadets in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said it was a special occasion to present the award during the weekend’s celebrations.

The event took place at St Lucia’s barracks in Omagh, where dozens of people, including Irish veterans, gathered.

“It is a double event, it is primarily to present the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the squadron in recognition of significant efforts it has made in working as community group, particularly in improving cross-community relations and across the border,” Mr Dodds said.

“We have a very positive relationship with the Irish Veterans Association.

“It is a youth organisation, it’s all about developing young people and giving them a positive future.

“It’s also in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, so it’s a street party in our barracks.

It's been incredible to be a part of something so important

Civilian instructor Sandy Wilson

“It’s a great day and it’s brilliant to celebrate our awards during the Jubilee.”

Civilian instructor Sandy Wilson, based at the Omagh squadron, said it has been a great family day.

“It’s been incredible to be a part of something so important,” she added.

“The cadets and staff have been doing so much work behind the scenes, we are very honoured to be awarded with the Queen’s Award.”

James Scanlon, chairman of the Connacht Ulster One (Oglaigh Naisiunta na hEireann) area, was at the event with Ollie O’Connor, former chief executive of One in Drogheda.

One provides accommodation for veterans who otherwise would be homeless, and has also established veterans’ support centres.

They said they have become friends with those involved in the Omagh squadron through the peace programme.

Robert Henning reads a story for his son Arthur, three, at the picnic at St Bartholomew’s Parish Church, Newry (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)
Robert Henning reads a story for his son Arthur, three, at the picnic at St Bartholomew’s Parish Church, Newry (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)

“We are delighted to come today and celebrate together,” Mr Scanlon said.

Mr O’Connor added: “There has been great friendships between the O’Neill branch in Cavan and the squadron in Omagh and it’s important for us to reciprocate that on their big day today.

“It means a lot to them to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and it’s important we are also there.

“It’s a great feeling of friendship between the organisations and it’s great to see the squadron being awarded the equivalent of the MBE.

“We feel that we are all on the one island, we all have to live together, so it’s better we live in friendship rather than shouting across at each other.”

Meanwhile in Newry, families gathered for a picnic at St Bartholomew’s Parish Church.

Union flag bunting was dotted throughout, while families posed for pictures with a cardboard cut-out of the Queen.

Tea, cakes and sandwiches were shared while children took part in a number of garden games, including mini golf.

Some children dressed up for the occasion, including five-year-old Noah McKnight, who dressed as a Foot Guard.

Vestry members Trevor McGaffin, Laura McKnight and her husband Neil planted a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative following a church service.

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