Northern Ireland news

Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes and organ donation champion Lucia Quinney-Mee receive new year honours

Eamon Holmes with wife and fellow presenter Ruth Langsford

EAMONN Holmes has said his wife and This Morning co-star Ruth Langsford was "even more thrilled than me" after he was named in the new year royal honours list.

The 58-year-old from Belfast, now living in Surrey and best known for his long career as a breakfast TV presenter, is receiving an OBE for services to broadcasting.

"The big dilemma is who to bring. My daughter is a big royalist, she loves everything to do with the royal family so she's booked her place," he said.

Holmes began his career at 19 at UTV and became the youngest anchor of a TV news programme when he presented Good Evening Ulster aged 21.

"I learned off Gloria Hunniford in Belfast and she has an OBE. It's quite strange to take over the programme and now have the same recognition," he said.

He presented GMTV from 1993 until 2005.

Holmes has a Friday morning slot on `This Morning' with Langsford, whom he married in 2010, and he presented Sky News's `Sunrise' until 2016.

"To be on TV at 19 and host a general election at 23, it's unparalleled and unprecedented without anybody giving you a hand up," he said.

Also recognised today is Lucia Quinney-Mee, from Ballycastle, Co Antrim, who has been through three liver transplants and now promotes organ donation.

The 18-year-old, who is the youngest person on the honours list, said she hoped the award would encourage people to talk to loved ones about leaving vital organs after their death.

"If people know their loved ones' wishes they are more likely to say yes to organ donation."

In 2015, the year of her third transplant, she set up the `Live Loudly Donate Proudly' campaign to raise awareness.

The Cross and Passion pupil was just eight when she suddenly suffered acute liver failure and was rushed to hospital and within 12 hours had a new liver.

The organ was rejected and she found herself back on the transplant list exactly one year later, undergoing another gruelling operation in January 2009.

She later found herself requiring a further transplant after complications from a kidney stone.

The teenager is now back at school and competed at the British Transplant Games.

"The difference between now and 2015, I can't really describe it. I'm a different person. I have a lot of energy. I'm back to school, doing A-levels and planning to go to university. I'm living a fairly normal life," she said.

"I'd like to do something life medical science or biomedical science and then to go on to do a graduate degree in medicine."

The teenager was awarded the British Empire Medal.

Among other high-profile names on the list of Northern Ireland list are Wrightbus founder William Thompson Wright, who was awarded a knighthood, and pundit Liam Beckett who was awarded an MBE for services to the voluntary sector and sport.

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