Gary Lightbody OBE awarded Freedom of the Borough

Wednesday 31st August 2022

Gary Lightbody OBE has been awarded the Freedom of the Borough at an official conferment ceremony hosted by Ards and North Down Borough Council in Bangor Castle.

A man stands beside a framed scroll that is resting on n easel. A woman in Mayoral regalia and a man in dark council robes stands behind him.

The conferment took place ahead of Wednesday evening’s Snow Patrol acoustic concert in Bangor, which has been organised in celebration of the award. 

Gary officially received the Freedom of Ards and North Down after signing the Book of Burgesses together with Mayor Karen Douglas and the Council’s Chief Executive Stephen Reid. 

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas, said: 

“The decision to bestow the Freedom of the Borough on Gary Lightbody was made in October 2019 but the pandemic and Gary’s busy touring schedule prevented us from presenting it until now. 2019 was the year of Ward Park 3 which Snow Patrol headlined and the concert really put Bangor on the international map. 

“That one event illustrated Gary’s love of home, his outstanding musical talent, and his commitment to championing new artists. He is a superb role model in the music industry and an ambassador for Northern Ireland so it is very appropriate for him to receive the highest honour that Ards and North Down Borough Council can bestow.” 

Freedom of the Borough is an ancient privilege, dating back to the 1600s and is reserved only for those deemed to have given eminent service. The Council is thrilled to be bestowing its highest honour on such a deserving recipient. 

Gary is a world-renowned musician, a philanthropist and tireless champion of charitable causes in Northern Ireland. He is an outstanding ambassador for Ards and North Down. 

Gary has used his success as a powerful force to support the growth and nurture of local musical talent. He was instrumental in the establishment of Oh Yeah Music Centre in 2007, a charity and social enterprise in Belfast, formed as a resource for music makers and to support the business of music in Northern Ireland. 

He was the first recipient of the award for ‘outstanding contribution to music’ at the Northern Ireland Music Prize in 2018 and has since talked about his appreciation of the ability to give back to the local music scene. 

The launch of The Lightbody Foundation in 2019, in partnership with The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, has provided crucial funding and helped to support a wide range of voluntary and community groups. Special educational needs, mental health and mentoring for young people are all causes close to his heart, which have benefited from his philanthropic endeavours. 

Gary has been extremely open about his own struggles with mental health and his journey with depression. His candour in talking about his experience helps to encourage others to talk about their own mental health. This saves lives. 

Having reached the highest level of international fame, Gary has never forgotten his roots. He has brought Snow Patrol back to Bangor for hugely successful concerts in 2007, 2010 and 2019. The positive impact of these gestures has been immense, firmly placing Bangor on the map and evoking such a feeling of pride from local people. He is a highly deserving recipient of Ards and North Down’s Freedom of the Borough.

Gary Lightbody OBE receives the Freedom of the Borough from Ards and North Down Borough Council. He is pictured here standing beside the his framed Freedom of the Borough scroll.
Gary Lightbody OBE is pictured as the Council bestowed its highest honour, the Freedom of the Borough award, on Gary Lightbody OBE at a conferment ceremony in Bangor Castle. (Image: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye)