Ian McDonnell BEM
We are delighted to announce that our chairman, Ian McDonnell has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Ian has devoted endless hours to the creation and running of Portico and we are extremely grateful for all his efforts. Congratulations!
Ian McDonnell has been a sheep farmer in the Upper Ards Peninsula all his life. His contributions to life in the Portaferry area and to agriculture in Northern Ireland have been outstanding. A strong sense of reason and balance pervades all of his altruistic activities and he is deeply respected by all sides of the community. His major spheres of influence have been as Chair and Treasurer of the National Sheep Association NI (NSANI)); as Chair of the Friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church (FPPC) and as an elder of PPC.
Ian was a foundation member of NSANI, served as chair and for the last 10 years has been honorary treasurer of this organisation. This is now one of the most successful branches in the UK and Ian’s vision and ability were in large part responsible for the success of their regular Sheep Show which attracts visitors from across Great Britain and Ireland. It is financially solvent and is recognised as a major source of education, marketing and socialising for the often isolated sheep farmers of this province.
The Friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church charity was founded in 2007 to rescue and restore Portaferry Presbyterian Church. Ian has been chairman since its inception, guiding it through the acquisition of the building, raising the £1.5m necessary for its restoration and turning it into the building we now know as “Portico” (while it continues to be used by the local Presbyterian congregation, under a licence arrangement, for their Sunday services etc). As a highly respected member of the local community, Ian was able to cajole, nudge and persuade people to come on board with the scheme and his contribution has been invaluable. He is very much the local face of the project and continues to be a volunteer for the centre making an enormous weekly contribution to the efficient running of the building.
Ian is also an elder in Portaferry Presbyterian Church. For many years he was congregational secretary and is now congregational treasurer – these appointments being honorary but also highly time consuming.
Through all these activities Ian has made a major contribution to his local community, to life in Co Down and to life in Northern Ireland. He has done much to advance the cause of sheep farmers in the region but has also guided the salvation of a grade A listed building of national importance providing a much needed arts and heritage centre which brings great pleasure to large numbers of people.