Northern Ireland news

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride receives a knighthood

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride during a Covid-19 update press conference in Parliament buildings in April. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire
David Young, PA

NORTHERN Ireland's chief medical officer said he shed tears of joy when he was told he was to receive a knighthood.

Dr Michael McBride, who has played a prominent role in the north's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, is one of the most high-profile local names in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

The 58-year-old, who is originally from north Belfast, said he was overcome with emotion when he heard.

"I'm not ashamed to say that, I felt very emotional," he told the PA news agency.

"I think it's just a manifestation of the fact that it's been a tough year for each and every one of us.

"And you know it will continue to be tough in the months ahead and to have any contribution that I have made recognised in this way I feel honoured and I feel very, very privileged indeed."

Dr McBride was appointed as CMO in September 2006 after serving as Medical Director of the Royal Group of Hospitals from August 2002.

He also paid tribute to all the colleagues who had supported him through a distinguished career in the health service. He also made special mention of his wife Catherine and their four children Anastasia, Sophia, Matthew and Alicia.

"Holding public office and public service is a great honour and a privilege but sometimes the burden of that responsibility weighs heavily on your shoulders and certainly also on those closest to you," he said.

"So I'm really chuffed to bits for my wife Catherine and for our four children."

Dr McBride also described the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic as "unrelenting" and said that the prospect of being referred to as Sir Michael felt "surreal".

"I sort of have to pinch myself and think is this really happening? Am I standing here talking about me?," he said.

"But I always remember the words of my late father - 'never forget the bowl you were baked in'.

"And I never have and I never will.

"I'm absolutely delighted and I'm absolutely thrilled and I feel deeply honoured and privileged to being recognised this way."

Professor Roy Spence, a Consultant Surgeon specialising in breast cancer at Belfast City Hospital was also honoured with a CBE, for services to the health service.

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