Opera champion overwhelmed by CBE honour in King’s Birthday Honours

One of Northern Ireland’s champions of opera has said he is “completely overwhelmed” after being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Roy Bailie, chairman of NI Opera, has been recognised for services to the economy and opera in the region.

Tasked by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland to set up a new opera company in 2010, Mr Bailie has guided NI Opera to deliver productions winning international acclaim as well as developing and nurturing numerous young local singers.

Mr Bailie said: “I am completely overwhelmed by this award, which I would like to share with my colleagues at NI Opera.

“I could not be more proud of what this small but extremely professional and effective company has achieved both on the local and international stage.

“I would also like to pay tribute to my wife Paddy and my family for their unswerving support throughout every aspect of my career.”

Cameron Menzies, NI Opera’s artistic director, said: “Roy’s impact on opera in Northern Ireland is almost immeasurable.

“His extensive business expertise, visionary thinking and dogged determination have resulted in an opera company of which Northern Ireland can be justly proud.

“He has taken a traditional artform and given his team the freedom to think laterally and beyond the limits of preconceived ideas.

“He has also created a Young Artist’s Programme to encourage young local singers to develop their talent.”

Mr Menzies added: “His pragmatic approach alongside generous and unlimited hours of his time have enabled us to reach a whole new audience for the artform.

“Roy is such a worthy recipient.”

Roisin McDonough chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “A warm congratulations to Roy Bailie.

“Roy Bailie has made an enormous contribution to opera and artistic life in Northern Ireland and fully deserves this great honour.”

In 1996, Mr Bailie became an OBE in recognition of services to printing.

He grew his company, the Baird Group, to become the fifth biggest and privately owned printing group in the UK, before leading the business in a transformation from print to professional services.

He is also the first person from Northern Ireland to be appointed to the Court of the Bank of England; was chair of the NI Tourist Board; NI chair of the Confederation of British Industry; director of UTV plc; and chair of the National Trust.

He was also appointed to the Court of Directors of the Bank of Ireland and chaired its Audit Committee.

He is currently chair of Binevenagh Coastal Lowlands Landscape Partnership, which aims to create new walks and access to one of Northern Ireland’s most remote coastal regions.

He was also chairman of Queen’s University Students’ Union Management Board from 2009-2016 and has been a member of Queen’s University Senate since 2018.