Larne Football Club is delighted to learn that Kenny Bruce has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for 2020.
The richly deserved honour recognises Kenny’s service to charity and community in the town of Larne and the wider area.
Since becoming involved at Inver Park, just three years ago, Kenny has been the driving force for progress not only on the pitch, but also off it.
The transformation as a football force has been clear in the past three years, moving from the bottom half of the Championship to the top half of the Danske Bank Premiership, under the full-time leadership of manager Tiernan Lynch.
However, Kenny’s tenure is not just about the success of the football played. Inver Park is an unrecognisable place since his investment in the club. A brand new synthetic pitch, which is used by daily by the community, has been laid, as well as state of the art floodlights installed. The Main Stand has been redeveloped and doubled in capacity, as well as the complete refurbishment of the 1889 club and Agnew Lounge.
Another sign of how the infrastructure of the club has grown from the ground up is the addition of the McKay Stand, with work continuing at the opposite end of the ground for the Church End redevelopment.
Outside of the first team we have seen the rapid growth of the club’s Academy, Ladies and girls football, as well as our new full-time Scholarship programme, for those aged 16 and over.
Away from Inver Park, Kenny Bruce’s desire to give something back to the town in which he was raised has been clear for all to see.
He has been driving force behind the club’s official charity Brighter Futures, his support of the Music Yard, Women’s Aid and other projects in the area.
Larne Chairman Gareth Clements led the tributes, saying: “I’m really, really pleased for not only Kenny, Kerrina, Keira, George and Tom, but also the wider Bruce Family upon hearing of Kenny’s recognition.
“If one Bruce family member undertakes a task or venture, the whole family are invested in it completely, maybe not commercially but wholeheartedly, emotionally and this will be an unbelievably proud day.
“Having spoken to Kenny at length before his investment in Larne Football Club, it was abundantly clear that this project was about much more than building a football club to him. It was about building a town, its people and leaving a legacy to the Agnew family name of his mother and grandparents. People who had instilled, good old Larne working class values into Kenny and helped mould him into the successful person he is today.
“I know Kenny will be extremely humbled by this award and knowing him it will only serve as oxygen to keep driving him on, to deliver bigger and better things for Larne.
“If anyone deserves a day out at the Palace it’s Kenny. I’m sure mother Anne will give the great and good a run for their money in the fashion stakes and on a more sombre note father Ken will be looking on from above bursting with pride saying, “the boy done good.”
“Well done pal, I’m absolutely delighted for you.”
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, councillor Peter Johnston also added his heartfelt congratulations.
He said: “Kenny’s motivation for investing in Larne FC was simple: he wanted to give something back to the team he supported as a child and the town where he grew up.
“His ambition, loyalty and passion for Larne is unparalleled and his support for the town goes beyond Larne FC. He has also sponsored a new boat for the rowing club and worked closely with the Music Yard, enabling them to relocate and work with schools, and the elderly and disabled in the borough.
“He has also been a strong supporter of Women’s Aid in Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (Women’s Aid ABCLN), signing the charity’s White Ribbon Charter pledging to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.”
“Channelling his life experiences and valuable lessons learned throughout his distinguished and high-profile career, he is personally contributing a significant and lasting economic impact in Larne and the wider borough. He is an inspiration to young people, and both aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs alike in what can be achieved through a clear vision and strong ambition, matched with hard work, determination and unfaltering energy.
“Kenny is, without doubt, a most worthy and deserving recipient of this honour from Her Majesty the Queen. On behalf of all at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, I offer our sincere thanks for everything he has done for Larne and the wider borough, together with our congratulations for this terrific achievement.”