Linfield FC records with sadness the passing of former lifelong supporter and proud Sandy Row man Billy Bell OBE.
Billy was a former MLA for the Lagan Valley constituency and his former Ulster Unionist Party has paid tribute following his sad passing.
The party’s Assembly Chief Whip, Robbie Butler, said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Bell OBE.
“Billy had a long and distinguished career as a public representative. He was elected to Belfast City Council in 1976, and subsequently became Lord Mayor of Belfast and then Mayor of the City of Lisburn, and was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, serving at Stormont until 2007. He also served on numerous public bodies including the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum Board and the Board of the NI Housing Executive.”
Mr Butler continued: “Billy had the honour of representing the people of Lagan Valley in the Assembly – as I do now - and I have often heard his name mentioned by constituents. He was one of those people who was held in very high esteem, even by those who may have regarded themselves as political opponents. Although he was a proud unionist to his core, Billy wanted to make politics work in Northern Ireland and to find a path to a better, peaceful and more prosperous future for all our people.
“Billy, like the late Ivan Davis, was a member of the original Assembly team of 1998. Both men supported and mentored me in my political career and for their support, advice, kindness and wisdom, I will be eternally grateful to them.”
He added: “Billy made friends far more easily than he made enemies and the word I have heard most often associated with him was ‘gentleman.’ He will be fondly remembered not just by his fellow Ulster Unionists, but by people right across Northern Ireland and indeed far beyond. On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party I would like to extend my deepest and sincerest sympathies to Billy’s wife Leona, the family circle and his many friends.”
The sympathy of everyone at Linfield FC is extended to the family circle at this sad time.
Audaces Fortuna Juvat
The following notes are taken from the handwritten archives of the former chairman, the late David Crawford.
Billy was born in 1934 and lived at Ebor Parade beside Windsor Park.
An ardent Linfield supporter, he was a foundation member of the Blue Stars of Windsor LSC in 1963.
He was president of the Blue Stars of Windsor LSC.
He ran a motor accessory shop in Sandy Row and on the Shankill Rd.
The Linfield daily draw was run upstairs in Billy’s Sandy Row shop.
He was a Belfast City councillor and Lord Mayor of the City in 1979.
He later moved to Hillsborough and became a member of Lisburn borough council.
He was elected as an MLA for the Lagan valley constituency in 1998 and 2003.