MBE award rounds off Rory McIlroy's year
FROM a spectacular meltdown on the world stage to winning the US Open, it's been quite a year for Rory McIlroy.
And the year has ended on a high note, with confirmation that the Ulsterman is to be recognised by Queen Elizabeth for his outstanding achievements.
The golf prodigy (22) said he was humbled after being named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the queen's New Year Honours List.
The MBE was awarded for his services to sport and the youngest US Open champion for 88 years celebrated the news in Thailand, where he is on holiday with his girlfriend, the world's number-one female tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki.
His fellow Ulsterman and golfer Darren Clarke was also on the honours list with an OBE -- an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Mr McIlroy said: "I am delighted to be named in the queen's New Year Honours List. It is quite humbling to be included in such a list of worthy recipients.
"Many people on the honours list have made huge personal sacrifices and contributed significantly to society. I feel very fortunate to be in their company."
Mr McIlroy had a whirlwind rise to the pinnacle of golf this year and teamed up with his girlfriend to form sport's latest golden couple. He recovered from a final-round meltdown at the US Masters to win the US Open two months later.
The mercurial sportsman, from Holywood, Co Down, stormed to victory at the Congressional Club in Maryland in June.
Darren Clarke (42), who triumphed at this year's British Open in July, said yesterday: "It is a great honour and a fantastic way to end a great year. I am very proud for me and my family."
He is from Dungannon in Co Tyrone and has been a member of five European Ryder Cup teams, four of them victorious.
A total of 55 people from Northern Ireland were awarded honours. The youngest was Mr McIlroy and the oldest was Robina Parkes (92), who was awarded an MBE for community fund raising.
Also on the Northern Ireland list were Professor Judith Hill, who was made a DBE (Dame of the British Empire) for services to people receiving palliative care. She is chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hospice.
Professor Jack Crane, state pathologist for Northern Ireland, was awarded the CBE (commander) for services to forensic pathology. He has played a key role in the development of national standards and a code of practice for the profession. He has also lectured extensively on terrorist violence.
David Best, director of finance at the Police Service of Northern Ireland, was awarded the OBE for services to policing. He manages the PSNI's budget and helped implement change linked to the Patten Report on policing in Northern Ireland.
Joanne Stuart, former chair of the Institute of Directors, was made an OBE for services to business in the community. She has advocated the cause of integrated education and worked tirelessly to promote the importance of business to the wider community.
Samuel Burnside was made an MBE for his services to the arts. He helped create the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry.
Jeffrey Dudgeon was made an MBE for services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Retired trade unionist Lily Kerr was awarded an MBE for her services to industrial relations.
Agnes Reilly, chair of the Belfast Titanic Society, was made an MBE for services to maritime and industrial heritage. Next year is the centenary of the liner's sinking in the North Atlantic.
Honours lists are published twice annually -- at new year and in mid-June on the queen's official birthday.
Anybody can be nominated for an honour, which includes knighthoods, appointments to the Order of the British Empire, life peerages, bravery awards and Orders of Chivalry.
Citizens from other countries may also receive an award for services to the United Kingdom.