from St Anne's

MBE for Cathedral parishioner Alan

Congratulations to Cathedral parishioner and former chorister Alan Boyd who has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

Alan, who lives in Holywood, was honoured for services to the community in Belfast. A former teacher, he was Deputy Principal of Glinahirk Primary School for 22 years before he took early retirement in 2010.

From 2005-2010, Alan was seconded to the role of Director of the Pushkin Trust, an educational charity founded by the late Duchess of Abercorn to work with children and young people largely in the areas of creative writing and environmental projects.

Alan joined the Belfast Cathedral Choir as a boy chorister in 1964 and was head chorister in 1969/70. He later sang as a counter tenor lay clerk and was in the choir was a total of 25 years. Alan was also a member of the Cathedral Board for more than 10 years.

In 1972 Dean Sammy Crooks asked Alan, who has a keen interest in history, to assist with the establishment of a Cathedral Archive, a task he was involved in for more than three decades.

Alan was chair of the North Belfast Historical Society during the 1980s.

Since retiring, he has spent four years as a conservation volunteer with the National Trust at Mount Stewart during the restoration project which finished in 2016. He has been on the Board of the Ulster Youth Orchestra since 2011.

Alan currently volunteers one day a week with Historic Royal Palaces at Hillsborough Castle. He stood down in May as Secretary of the Ulster History Circle, and played an instrumental role in having a Blue Plaque erected outside St Anne’s Cathedral in memory of Black Santa founder, Dean Crooks, in December 2014. Alan remains a member of the Ulster History Circle committee.

“I choose to be busy,” he said. “To retire and sit in a corner and read the newspaper every day is not fun.”

He said the news that he was to be awarded an MBE had come out of the blue. “I was not expecting it. You always think other people get things like this. I am really chuffed. When you look back on your life and realise how many things you have done it is quite surprising. But everything I do is because I enjoy doing it.”

While Alan, who has an Open University Arts Degree in English, Music and Education, enjoys his history, singing remains his first love, and he sings with the St George’s Chamber Choir in St George’s Church, High Street, once a month.