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Liam Neeson receives Freedom of the Borough in home town

28 January 2012

Story and image courtesy BBC

Hollywood big name Liam Neeson has received the Freedom of the Borough from Ballymena Borough Council at a ceremony in the County Antrim town.

Liam Neeson in Ballymena

He was greeted at the Braid Arts Centre by Mayor P J McAvoy.

The Oscar-nominated actor is best known for starring roles in the Star Wars film The Phantom Menace, Schindler's List, Taken and Michael Collins.

The Freedom of the Borough is the highest accolade the council can award a citizen.

He exchanged a few words with the crowd waiting to greet him and posed for photographs.

At the ceremony,the Mayor formally proposed the honour which was seconded by councillor Tommy Nicholl before being given the approval of the members of the council.

Mr Neeson was then invited to sign the Book of Burgesses.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, councillor McAvoy said: "This is a significant civic occasion but we have been at pains to keep the formalities to a minimum, in keeping with Liam's relaxed style and recognising that this is, above all, a gathering of friends.

"It will also be a real Ballymena-style celebration, with some of our fantastic local talent providing the music; Ballymena students providing their own cinematic tribute to Liam's life and work and local produce providing guests with a literal 'taste of the region'.

"Liam will find himself very much at home when he steps onto the stage to speak to his Ballymena audience, for he started his acting career by treading those very boards as a young member of the Slemish Players."

"We look forward to honouring an outstanding individual who has proved to be both an exceptional talent and a superb global ambassador for Ballymena."

Ahead of the ceremony, Liam Neeson said he was honoured and delighted to accept the award from Ballymena Borough Council.

Mr Neeson said: "Enormous strides have been made in my native Northern Ireland in the past decade, demonstrated by political, social and economic changes that came about through a combination of courage, generosity and persistence."

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