Northern Ireland’s former civil service chief David Sterling has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Mr Sterling said the “humbling” honour was recognition of the whole organisation’s work during the three-year Stormont stalemate.
More than 100 people from NI were honoured, with many recognised for their work during the pandemic.
They include a virologist, who scaled-up Covid-19 testing and an NHS trainer.
Mr Sterling retired earlier this year after more than 40 years in the civil service, which does the practical and administrative work of government.
The 62-year-old found himself running Northern Ireland in the midst of Stormont’s power-sharing crisis, which was eventually resolved in January.
“We were determined throughout that period that we would keep the lights on, we would keep the show on the road,” he said.
“But we wanted, as far as we could, to do more than just keep things ticking over.”
He received his knighthood for services to government.
Virologist Dr Conall McCaughey, 59, from Downpatrick in County Down, has been appointed OBE for services to laboratory testing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr McCaughey, who works for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, was involved in boosting the number of samples analysed in labs from eight per day in February to 1,500 per day currently.
“We were doing things in days that would normally take weeks, and in weeks what would normally take six months,” he said.
“It has been stressful and also really quite affirming that the system can actually do big things quickly, and bigger things faster, than any of us that work in the system have ever seen or thought possible.”
Caroline Lee, who helped train nurses in managing deteriorating patients during Covid-19 care, has been made an MBE for services to healthcare.
Ms Lee, head of the Clinical Education Centre in Belfast, said she was “humbled” adding: “With anything in health it is never one person, for this it is not one person, it is the whole team.”
St John Ambulance volunteer Adrian Petticrew said he wanted his OBE to shine a light on the work of all his colleagues during the emergency.
The 53-year-old, from Banbridge in County Down, has been involved in the charity since he was 10.
British Empire Medals (BEM) have been awarded to Lloyd and Ruth Creaney, from Hillsborough in County Down, for services to key workers.
While shielding at home, the husband and wife used their graphic design skills to make face shields for staff at Craigavon Area Hospital.
“We feel like we just did our bit really,” said Mr Creaney.
Names from the sporting world were also recognised on the list.
Eddie Harper, Rory McIlroy’s juvenile coach who allowed the golfer to join Holywood Golf Club when he was three years below the age limit, receives a BEM.
“[McIlroy] assured me he knew the rules of golf and would not annoy people,” Mr Harper joked.
Alan Snoddy, the World Cup finals referee from County Antrim, has been made an MBE for services to football.
Doing the honours
- Companion of Honour -limited to 65 people. Recipients wear the initials CH after their name
- Knight or Dame
- CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- OBE – Officer of the Order of the British Empire
- MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire
- BEM – British Empire Medal
Read more on the types of honours here: Guide to the Honours