A WARM tribute has been paid to a former Lisburn Councillor who recently passed away.
William Aitkenhead McNeill a member of First Lisburn Presbyterian Church, died on May 20 and is survived by his wife, Dr. Martha Hay, his son Ronald who lives in Carlisle and two daughters, Louise and Natasha, who live in Canada.
As a member of First Lisburn Presbyterian Church, Mr Cecil Kirkwood knew Mr McNeill, 'Bill'' quite well. Mr Kirkwood described him as a "superb athlete"' winning medals at athletics. He said: "His main sport was golf where he was a scratch player, being Captain of Lisburn Golf Club and Captain of Royal County Down."
Mr McNeill was born in Burmah, where his father worked, in 1916. As they returned to Scotland before the Japanese invaded, their boat was torpedoed and the family were at sea for some time in life boats, explained Mr Kirkwood.
The family lived in Scotland where Bill was educated at Morrison's Academy before starting to study for a Law Degree at Edinburgh University.
The war intervened and Bill joined the army and was stationed for a time in Lisburn, where he went to services in First Lisburn Presbyterian Church. The minister at the time was Dr David Hay and Bill became friendly with Dr Hay's daughter, Martha, and they eventually married, but not before Mr McNeill spent four years in a German prisoner of war camp.
Mr Kirkwood, explained that after the war Mr McNeill did not complete his Law degree but went into the linen business, becoming Managing Director of Thomas Somersets in Belfast.
When the new Ulster College, The Northern Ireland Polytechnic opened in 1970 at Jordanstown, Mr McNeill was appointed as its first Chairman of the Board of Governers, steering this new institution until it became the University of Ulster. For his work in education, Mr McNeill was awarded the CBE.
Mr McNeill also played a significant part in Lisburn civic life, being an elected Council member of Lisburn Urban Council, and later, an Alderman of the new Lisburn Borough Council. He also was a member of the County Antrim Education Committee.
The former Councillor was a valued member of First Lisburn Presbyterian Church, where he played a significant part, becoming a Committee member in 1950 and was ordained as an Elder in 1956. He was also Sunday School superintendent for many years, well beloved of the youth and young children.
In 1975 he left the congregation to live in Spa, co Down. He later moved to Newcastle where he spent his final days.