Co Armagh-born TV presenter and all-round entertainer and charity campaigner Gloria Hunniford could be given the highest honour her native borough has to bestow.
Gloria, who was born in Portadown and began her illustrious TV and radio career in the late 1970s, could be awarded the Freedom of the Borough.
A motion calling on the award for one many consider to be a national treasure is to be debated at the monthly meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council tonight (Monday).
The motion, to be brought in the name of DUP Councillor Margaret Tinsley and seconded by Alderman Sydney Anderson, wants to recognise Gloria as “an excellent ambassador and advocate for this borough”.
It asks that the council “confers the Freedom of the Borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon to Mrs Gloria Hunniford OBE in recognition of her outstanding television and radio broadcasting achievements and contributions to cancer charities and services”.
Gloria Hunniford was an anchor presenter on the local news broadcast Good Evening Ulster.
While she worked behind the scenes for many years, she began her work in front of the camera back in the late 1970s and would feature prominently on both ITV and the BBC over the years.
Showing no signs of slowing down, Gloria today is one of the hosts of the popular day-time TV show Loose Women. She has numerous prime time appearances including a celebrity edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Through the Keyhole, Songs of Praise, Holiday and Call My Bluff, and would even appear in the line-up for Strictly Come Dancing.
Presenting and co-presenting credits include consumer affairs show Rip-Off Britain, Doorstep Crime 999 and Charlie’s Consumer Angels, as well as her regular role today on Loose Women.
Gloria – whom the legendary and record-breaking singer Cliff Richard counts among his closest and dearest friends – is also heavily involved in charity work.
Her daughter Caron Keating, who was also a TV presenter fronting shows such as kids’ favourite Blue Peter, died after a brave battle with breast cancer in April 2004.
Gloria has also spoken openly of Caron’s death and admitted she has never recovered from the loss of one of her three children.
But the tragedy moved her to establish a cancer charity in her daughter’s memory, the Caron Keating Foundation, in order to help others. She is also the patron of another charity, Hope for Tomorrow, which provides mobile cancer units to allow for public screening.
While a television veteran, it was Gloria’s work with cancer charities which brought her a richly-deserved OBE in the summer of 2017 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
The Freedom of the Borough could now be added to those awards.
Gloria has always spoken fondly of Northern Ireland and in particular her native County Armagh.
While today she lives in England, she has returned many times and is proud of her local roots.
If the council votes in favour of awarding the Freedom of the Borough – past recipients of which have included sporting legends Ronnie McFall and Rory Best – it would see a local ceremony organised, with Gloria as guest of honour, to confer this huge honour.