Lives Remembered

‘First lady of Ballymoney' was mayor for eight years

Mollie Holmes pictured with finance minister Mervyn Storey

SO popular a politician was Mollie Holmes that she served an unprecedented eight years in succession as mayor of Ballymoney.

Only retirement stopped her continuing in the role, but she remained the town's unofficial mayor for many more years in a remarkable life of public service.

Even her hundredth birthday in 2014 did not see her slowing down, continuing to sit on health and charitable bodies, keeping up with the news on her iPad and on hand to officially open town shops.

She put her longevity down to hard work, clean living and good plain food.

Genes must have been a factor too - her brother Archie Hart still runs his butcher's on Ballymoney Main Street aged 93.

Mollie was an institution in Ballymoney. The DUP's Mervyn Storey dropped by on the day he was appointed social development minister and again as finance minister.

He described her as the "absolute embodiment of public service"

Born on a farm outside Ballymoney in 1914, Mollie was first elected to Ballymoney Urban Council in 1955, the first woman to take a seat.

Standing as an independent, she never aligned herself to a party.

"My driving force has always been a desire to help other people," she said.

She remained in office until 1985, ending a remarkable run of eight successive terms as mayor, and was made the first 'freeman' of Ballymoney the following year.

She didn't slow down - the Justice of the Peace sat on education boards, road safety and health committees and worked with numerous charities, being recognised with an OBE. She also remained a follower of Coleraine FC.

Mollie Holmes, who lived in Charlotte Street in Ballymoney with her son James who cared for her, died aged 101 on Tuesday.

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Lives Remembered