Church Lads’ Church Girls’ Brigade (CLCGB) stalwart Johnny Conn, Carnmoney CLCGB, has been invited to attend the Coronation of Kings Charles III at Westminster Abbey.
Johnny, who is second in command of the CLCGB across Northern Ireland, said he was shocked to receive the invite to the historic service taking place on Saturday May 6.
The retired teacher said: “My initial reaction was one of complete shock. It was so unexpected. I still don’t quite believe it but feel very privileged to be attending such an historic occasion.
“I must admit that the closer it gets, the greater the anticipation becomes.”
Johnny, who lives in Ballyclare, has been associated with the Carnmoney Church Lads’ Brigade for more than 50 years. He joined the Senior Corps of the Carnmoney CLB Company, Newtownabbey, in 1970. He enjoyed the Brigade’s sporting programme and was presented with the Brigade’s Church Service Award at a display night in the early 70s for teaching in the parish Sunday School.
After attending Officer Training, Johnny was commissioned as Second Lieutenant, promoted to Lieutenant. He was Captain of the Carnmoney Company from 1977 until 1998, and in 1992 established a Church Girls’ Brigade unit for the parish which, with the help of an enthusiastic group of leaders, became strong and successful.
Johnny played the bass drum in the Company’s Marching Band and also worked at Battalion and Regimental level. He was Publicity Officer and assisted the Training Officer to organise courses. In 1991, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion. He recently did a second term as Publicity Officer and has always had a passion to record the Brigade’s history.
Johnny will be attending a Coronation event with the brigade on May 4, before heading to London the following day.
The Coronation Service will not be the first time Johnny will have attended a ceremony alongside a member of the Royal Family.
“I’ve not been inside Westminster Abbey, but have been fortunate enough to have attended garden parties at both Buckingham Palace and Hillsborough Castle. I’ve also been at commemoration services to mark VE Day, occasions when a Royal guest was present,” he said.
“In 1980, Her Majesty the Queen reviewed the CLCGB in Windsor Great Park and in 1994 she visited our national headquarters. These were truly special occasions.”
Looking ahead to the Coronation, Johnny added: “I feel honoured to be representing the Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade. Although not as well-known as other youth organisations, it plays an important part in the lives of its members.
“This is unquestionably one of the highlights of my time in the CLCGB. So many people in our country have never witnessed a Coronation and I’m going to be there. I wish Charles III many blessings as King of our great country.”