George Johnston’s New Year’s Honours BEM citation says simply ‘For services to the community in Portadown’. And he has served the town in several, diverse ways.
He was a founder member of Craigavon Cardiac Care Association (CCCA) and served for 47years – including chairman and PR.
He was President of Portadown Chamber of Commerce during the time that he and wife May ran a successful jewellery business in Market Street.
During his tenure as President he fronted several campaigns, the closest to his heart being ramp access onto footpaths all over town, and wheelchair acccess to shops within the Portadown area - a campaign in tandem with the Portadown Times.
He and May headed the popular St Mark’s Church of Ireland Seniors Club for 23 years, and they organised trips to GB and the Republic as well as shopping outings in Northern Ireland.
Through the club, they provided a wonderful stained glass window – aided by his brother Tom - for St Mark’s where he has worshipped for over 70 years since the family moved from Enniskillen when he was 10. He was one of a family of 14, ten of whom survive.
George was also a Boys Brigade officer at St Mark’s and helped in the provision of a defibrillator for the church through his CCCA contacts.
In the middle of it all, he had to undergo kidney dialysis at Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, for eight years when his renal system failed – and he had a successful kidney transplant more than a decade ago.
“It’s really humbling to receive the BEM,” he said. “The groups I served are filled with people more deserving than me.”
Brother Tom, who led the application for the BEM said, “Nobody deserves it more. We’re extremely proud of George. He has served Portadown in so many ways and without any thought of reward.”