Mid and East Antrim to honour Jonathan Rea with Freedom of the Borough

Racing ace Jonathan Rea MBE is to be awarded the Freedom of the Borough by Mid and East Antrim Council in November.

Jonathan Rea MBE. Press Eye/Darren Kidd

Jonathan, a past pupil of Larne Grammar School, is five times World Superbike  champion.

He was awarded an MBE for services to motorcycle racing in 2017.

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A bursary in his name will be launched at the borough’s next Sports Awards ceremony.

Speaking at a remote meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on Monday evening, the Mayor, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “Following council’s decision to confer freedom of the borough to Dr Jonathan Rea MBE as proposed by Cllr McKeen and seconded by Alderman Reid, officers are currently in discussions with Dr Rea’s team to agree a suitable date in November.

“He has requested a low key ceremony with reduced numbers and the launch of a bursary in his name which would be awarded at the annual Sports Awards.”

The honour was proposed last February by Larne Lough DUP Cllr Gregg McKeen and seconded by party colleague Ald Paul Reid.

Freedom of the Borough is the highest award a council can grant.

Speaking at the time, Cllr McKeen said: “Jonathan’s career to date has been nothing short of incredible. He is one of the greatest sports people our country has ever produced.

“The word hero is often over-used, but in Jonathan, we in Mid and East Antrim, have someone who is truly fitting of that description.

“He is a wonderful ambassador for our area and an inspiration to so many throughout Northern Ireland, and around the world.”

Ald Reid said: “This area has a strong affinity with motor sport and we are so proud that one of the greatest ever riders hails from Mid and East Antrim.

“Jonathan is the perfect example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication, and he is the perfect role model for our young people.”

The Ballyclare rider was awarded the Freedom of the Borough by Antrim and Newtownabbey council last January.

He became the first rider in the history of the Championship to achieve five world titles consecutively from 2015 until 2019, winning a total of 17 races last year.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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