Much-respected Castlederg man will cherish award ‘for the rest of his life’

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Much-respected Castlederg man will cherish award ‘for the rest of his life’ thumbnailJim Emery, Castlederg, who was awarded the BEM in the Queen's New Years' honours list for voluntary service to the Boys' Brigade and the community in Co Tyrone.

One of the most well-known and highly respected figures in Castlederg and much further afield, Mr James Emery has been honoured with a BEM in the Queen's New Year Honours list and says it is something he will 'cherish for the rest of his life'.

Said Mr Emery: "It was back in mid-November when among other mail I received a buff envelope from the Cabinet Office in London stating that the Prime Minister proposed to submit my name to Her Majesty The Queen to  be awarded  a British Empire Medal [BEM] in the New Year 2018 Honours List.

"The citation read

'For service to the Boys' Brigade and the community in County Tyrone.'

The letter was a great surprise and I read it a few times to make sure it was addressed to myself and on reflection I wish to thank most sincerely those who put forward the nomination. I am certainly honoured and it is something I shall cherish for the rest of my life."

A former district councillor, Mr Emery has been extremely active in the local community over the years and as a fellow Castlederg resident remarked this week 'no one is more deserving of being recognised' in this way - a view which would be echoed by many.

As a boy James was educated at Clare and Edwards Primary Schools and finally Castlederg Secondary School.


Mr Emery has given an amazing lifetime of dedicated service to the Boys' Brigade and is still actively involved. He has served as a Lieutenant in 1st Castlederg Boys' Brigade Company since 1963 and was awarded the movement's long service gold brooch in 2003.

He served as president of the West Ulster Battalion of the Boys' Brigade from 2006 to 2009 and is currently vice-president of the West Ulster Battalion.

"The Boys' Brigade is very much part of my life, I have seen hundreds of boys go through it," said the retired footwear sales representative.

"Many of our boys have won the Queen's Badge - the BB's highest honour," he enthused. "The BB makes a tremendous contribution to the community, many of the boys later go to job interviews wearing a Queen's Award or other BB badge."

Mr Emery has taken the Boys' Brigade members on over 40 annual camps around the British Isles.

He has also been extremely active in church life over the years. He has been a member of First Castlederg Presbyterian Church Kirk Session since 1975, has served as Clerk of Session since 2001, a Sunday School Teacher since 1960 and is a lay preacher.

He was an Ulster Unionist member of the then Strabane District Council from 1989 to 2011, having been elected chairman in 2003 - 04. He also served as chairman of Strabane District Policing Partnership 2005-06 and 2009-10.

On the education front, Mr Emery served as a school governor of Castlederg High School from 1987 to 2011, and the then Bridgehill Primary School from 1987 to 2013.

A prominent member of the Orange Order, he has served as County Grand Master of County Tyrone Grand Orange Lodge from 2012 until the present time and in the Royal Black Institution he is current lay chaplain of County Tyrone Grand Black Chapter.


The Order's overall Grand Master, Edward Stevenson, has congratulated those members of the organisation, including Mr Emery, who were recognised in the honours list.

Mr Stevenson said: "I would like to congratulate all those members of the Orange fraternity who have been recognised at ther highest level for their service and contribution to wider society. First and foremost, it is a tremendous personal achievement and will no doubt be an extremely proud moment for recipients and their families."

As an author and historian of note, Mr Emery has produced a number of publications on local history of the town and district, including 1st Castlederg Boys' Brigade Company, Castlederg High School, 'Castlederg and Garvetagh War Memories' and 'Tyrone Reflections on the Ulster Covenant'.

The popular and affable North Tyrone man has also been a regular contributor of local news items to the Tyrone Constitution and the Strabane Weekly News over the years and is an invaluable source of information on the goings-on in the area.


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