LARNE man Robert Alexander’s lifelong dedication to voluntary and community services in Northern Ireland has earned him an MBE in the New Year’s Honours.
Robert, of Old Glenarm Road, said he was both “delighted and honoured” to learn he had been nominated for the award.
The news came just weeks after Robert and his wife Kathleen returned from a ceremony in St James’ Palace, London, in honour of him being named a Diamond Champion in recognition of the contribution that people over the age of 60 make through volunteering.
“We had a lovely day at the palace at the end of November and met Prince Charles and Camilla, the patrons of the award, along with a number of television personalities such as Gloria Hunniford, who were representing various communities” said Robert.
“We are really looking forward to receiving our next invitation now . It would be lovely if it was for Buckingham Palace”.
Robert’s tireless efforts in helping to make Larne a better place spans many sectors of the community.
He has volunteered for 15 years with the interdenominational Larne Tuesday Group, which brings together people of all backgrounds and encourages good community relations.
Robert has also helped to launch six cross-community Alpha courses, which are open to anyone, with or without a church connection.
“To sit apart as so-called Christians is not an idea I would hold,” he said. “The Tuesday Group, for example, is designed to encourage and foster harmony in the community.”
He also volunteered with the local Community Relations Forum and his involvement has helped the process of communication right across the Larne community, helping to reduce sectarian tension through informal mediation work.
Robert is a founder member of Larne Round Table and Larne and District Housing Association.
He has also been involved with Larne YMCA for 25 years, seeing its growth into the invaluable community service for young people it is today and helping the organisation to establish a new, modern base.
With a connection right up to the level of captain with the Boys’ Brigade movement for nearly 50 years, Robert is a well-known and much respected figure to many generations in both First Larne and Gardenmore companies.