Local Upper Bann MLA, Samuel Gardiner, has said he was ‘incredibly honoured’ to be appointed Vice President of the Ulster Unionist Party at its annual conference at the weekend.
Mr Gardiner is to stand down from the Assembly next May, bringing to an end a political career that has spanned over 50 years.
Mr Gardiner said: “The reason I entered politics was to help the people and the area that I was so blessed to come from. I joined the Ulster Unionist Party as a teenager in the 1950’s and at the age of 27 I had the true honour of becoming Mayor of my home town, Lurgan.
“Throughout my career I never lost an election, something I put down to working tirelessly for local constituents. I must have dealt with well over 10,000 individual cases in my time as a councillor, member of the Northern Ireland Forum and as an MLA, and I got to know and meet so many wonderful people of all classes and creeds.
“No matter where I was, I was always happiest working and delivering for people in the constituency. One of my proudest achievements has to be my time as Chairman of the local jobs-creation organisation CIDO. The premises established at Carn and Lurgan have been major economic drivers for the local area.
“Whilst I will not be a candidate at next year’s Assembly election I intend to remain fully involved in local life. I was honoured when the Party Leader recently asked me to take up the important position of Vice President of the Ulster Unionist Party. I hope I will be able to use this position to further support Ulster Unionism across Upper Bann.”
During his speech to the conference on Saturday, UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt spoke of his delight that the Party would be retaining Samuel’s experience and wisdom as they entered the next phase of their revival.