Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, held a very special reception this week for Council employee Stephen Burns, who was recently recognised with a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List for his services to the community as a street cleaner in Portglenone.
An employee of Council for over two decades, Stephen has worked at keeping the streets of the village and the country roads clean and tidy - and has gained the respect of the rural community who have described him as a 'gentleman'.
Speaking recently about his Honours recognition Stephen said:
“I don’t know anything about how these things work. I just go and do my work every day.
“About a month ago, a fellow rang me around lunchtime. He told me about this award and I thought he was pulling my leg. I told him I would mention it to some other people and he said to me I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. I thought that sounded a bit suspicious.
“He told me there was a letter to come about it. They couldn’t email it to me because I don’t have an email address. So I phoned my boss and he told me that it was real and then the letter eventually came."
“I do the main street in Portglenone, all the roads, in around the housing estates. I clean it all up.
“You earn your money at this time of the year when it is cold, but I always thank the Lord every morning that I have my health and I love this kind of work.
“I’ve got to know lots of people through my work. There are people waving at me all the time and tooting their horn and sometimes I don’t know who they are at all.
“I suppose I’m in the public eye all the time.
“The job has not changed that much and that is the way I like it. I would do a lot of cleaning up, lifting litter, clearing away the weeds, I do all the wee things that maybe other people wouldn’t do. I would always try to go the extra mile. I always want to do a good day’s work.”
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Alderman Noel Williams commented:
“Stephen is an excellent ambassador for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and he is deeply valued by the community in Portglenone where he does such sterling work.
"As Mayor, I congratulate him on behalf of Council and thank him for his dedication and commitment to our Borough.”