WELL known market trader Clive O’Neill was ‘humbled’ to receive a royal honour for his charitable services to his local community.
The 70 year-old father of two was ‘over the moon’ to be awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s Honours list.
Some of the greengrocer’s charitable efforts included serving on the Newtownards and District Charity Committee and he praised his fellow members as ‘the most generous people you have ever met in life’.
Although the committee has since folded, they held a variety of fundraising events such as fireworks displays, charity auctions and Praise Services during their lengthy time together.
Said Clive: “I loved it, I was on the committee for about 30 years. Dessie and Daphne Coffey started it and asked me to join. Our whole ethos was to raise money for people in need.”
Together their efforts have supported the work of local charities such as Marie Curie and the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice as well as individuals in need across the local community.
A well known market trader for an impressive 48 years, Clive can regularly be seen selling fruit and vegetables in Newtownards and plants in Bangor.
The former president of Newtownards Chamber of Trade was keen to praise his family and their support which allowed him to dedicate his time to helping others.
“Without the support of my wife Roberta and my family I couldn’t have done it. I would have been out at nights and weekends,” said Clive.
He recalled the moment he learned he was to receive the honour. “I was shocked, it was disbelief and I was humbled. I came back from Bangor market and I got the letter. I must have read the letter six times.”
Apart from his wife Roberta, Clive kept news of the honour a secret until Christmas. “My family are over the moon. I didn’t tell them until Christmas day. I kept it a secret as long as I could.”
Clive has received hundreds of messages of congratulation from people from all walks of life. “You want to see the messages I have got on social media. I think there were 272 of them. I also got an email from my surgeon congratulating me.”
The marketeer has thankfully returned to full health after undergoing an operation that saw him take a number of months off from his usual pitch back in 2022.
Said Clive of his honour: “I feel very humble. It was not just my efforts, there were thousands of people who supported the events the charity organised and the rest of the committee.”
Clive and his family are now looking forward to their special day when he will receive his honour. However, Clive is no stranger to meeting the royal family having enjoyed speaking with the then Prince Charles when he and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Bangor market in 2021.