COOKSTOWN man Bryan Dunlop has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s birthday honours list for his years of services to the Mid Ulster community.
The BEM has been reintroduced after 20 years to reward those volunteering ‘hands-on’ service in their community, and local man Bryan Dunlop is undeniably deserving of this particular award.
The 74-year-old has been an organist and choirmaster for over 60 years. The last 49 in First Presbyterian Church Cookstown; a choral conductor; a recitalist at the dedication of new church organs; accompanist at five broadcasts and has played the organ at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
He has taught piano, organ and theory of music right across the community for nearly 50 years; hundreds of his pupils have obtained their Trinity College grade exams, some moving on to become music teachers and organists in churches and chapels throughout the land.
“I am delighted that my years of service have been recognised in this way,” he told the MAIL.
Bryan has provided music for many weddings and nuptial masses including at his own church, as well as in Coalisland, Dungannon and Ardboe- he said two stand out in his mind. “One, where the bride didn’t show up, and another when Father Garrett Campbell took me to the wrong rehearsal at the Rock,” he said.
Bryan is also a keen sportsman, playing locally, then for Queen’s University and then Enfield Town in London. When he returned to Moneymore, he joined Killymoon Golf Club serving as Assistant Honorary Secretary, Captain in 1992 and President from 2007 until 2011.
A pupil of Burn Road PE School and Rainey Endowed Magherafelt, finally graduating in Light Electrical Engineering at Queen’s University, Belfast. Now retired, he lectured in Physics and Magherafelt Technical College and was a senior lecturer at Dungannon Technical College for a further 23 years.
He helped establish Provincial Priories Golfing Society, which formed in 1996 and raises funds for many charities.
Secretary of the society, George Stewart said: “Bryan, as Vice Chairman has worked tirelessly in organising the annual tournament at Killymoon Golf Club, as well as collecting thousands of pounds each year by the way of sponsorship.
“Local charities, specialised hospital units and schools have all benefited from his sterling efforts.”
Bryan, his daughter Gillian and late wife Lorna contributed a combined 120 years service to church music. “The family motto must be ‘I will make music to the Lord’,” he said.
He will attend a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle to receive his award, and will also be invited to one of the Queen’s garden parties.