FORMER Fivemiletown High School principal John Burrell has been awarded an MBE for his services to the community of Fivemiletown as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Since arriving in Fivemiletown in 1961, John has played an important role in many aspects of development throughout the area.

Speaking about finding out about the receiving the MBE, John said: “I have done a lot for the town over the years and I thought I merited it, but it is always a pleasant surprise when it comes good for you.

“I didn’t do it for medals or anything. When you see what some people get [such an award] for, you think some day you might get that.”

There are a number of significant developments that stand out for John, such as the building of a new parish hall for St. John’s Parish Church.

He also set up the Fivemiletown Community Development Association, that was awarded grants which led to the development of The Buttermarket in the town.

“It’s a neutral venue and a great thing to bring Catholics and Protestants together. And we had all sorts of things going on, like after-school playgroups, health and fitness and so on.”

The association also received grants for an enterprise centre, but due to no land being available in Fivemiletown, it was built in Clabby a short distance away.

Other projects included the building of a five-lane bowling green at the King George V Playing Fields.

In his 36 years with Fivemiletown High School, one of the most significant achievements for John was the building of a swimming pool at the school.

“When I was principal of the school, round about that time a fella drowned in a wee lough here called the Round Lake.

“I said ‘There will be no more deaths – we’ll teach people how to swim’.

“We got a digger and started to dig a hole in the ground, and built a pool, and we had a good teacher and we built a 25-metre heated pool, and it has been going strong ever since.

“When I left as principal, they knocked the whole school down and the only thing left was the pool.”

John is more than happy to play his part in improving Fivemiletown for future generations and he is still part of the community association.

“I don’t think I’ll ever give up The Buttermarket or the community association. Fivemiletown has a lot of things going for it, and it is great to see.”