Elected Members sprung the unexpected vote on Mrs. Dixon on Monday night and, with the vote soundly in favour, left the retiring Council leader feeling a little fleeced!
The motion was proposed by Alderman Magill, Councillor Goodman, Councillor Webb and Alderman Cosgrove and seconded by Councillors Lynch, Stewart and Ward:
In recognition of her outstanding service to the Council, and her special contribution to the development of Antrim and Newtownabbey, the Council confers the Freedom of the Borough on its Chief Executive Mrs Jacqui Dixon MBE.
The civic honour, the highest accolade the Council can bestow, historically includes the right to drive sheep unimpeded in the town. It is a symbolic gesture to pay homage to those who have rendered eminent services to the Borough.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Mark Cooper BEM led the tributes to Mrs. Dixon:
You have spearheaded the Council through many of its diverse challenges. Always working collaboratively and with a clear focus on driving improvements into the heart of communities.
Your vision and exceptional leadership have been instrumental not only to the economic success of our Borough, but to the highly effective, efficient and impactful performance of our Council.
I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks for your dedication and service and wish you the most wonderful retirement.
The Elected Member Group Leaders added their own tributes to Mrs. Dixon’s career, describing her as a dynamic and strategic leader who has shaped the Council into a thriving and progressive organisation.
Speaking about the surprise Freedom of the Borough conferment, Mrs. Dixon said the honour created a perfect way to mark the end of her career:
I am overwhelmed and humbled by this accolade. I can think of no better way to conclude my career.
I would like to thank the Elected Members and Council officers for their support and friendship over the years and I wish them every success for the future.
Jacqui Dixon was also awarded with the Van Coulter Lifetime Achievement Award. Find out more here.
Jacqui Dixon, who holds an MBE, retired yesterday (Tuesday 31 October) after two and a half decades of service as a local government figurehead. Before starting her Chief Executive post in 2010, she was Director of Development Services (from 2007 to 2010) and Economic Development Manager (1999 to 2005) at Newtownabbey as well as Director of Development Services at Craigavon Borough Council from 2005 to 2007.