DR Gilbert (‘Gilly’) Carson is the Portadown Times Person to be Proud Of 2011 after almost 1,000 voted in our inaugural poll.
And Gilly must be the only person within his wide circle of friends who “cannot fathom why I was chosen - to tell you the truth, it’s a bit overwhelming”.
Perhaps his Christian ethos reveals the reason - “too many people preach the Gospel through a microphone and loud speaker - few are willing to sit down person-to-person and quietly discuss day-to-day problems.”
Gilly certainly does that in every aspect of his life - all with a God-given gift to communicate and a rare self-effacing humour that endears him to everyone he meets.
His “day (and often night) job” is healing in the hectic Emergency Department of Craigavon Area Hospital, where he is revered and respected by colleague and patient alike. His total lack of pomposity is his most endearing quality. He is a renowned expert at his work, having started his medical career in surgery, and his easy manner with the patients is unique.
He is ex-Portadown College, followed by graduation at Queen’s University - born and bred in the town, with his father the late Dr Sam Carson and his mother Mrs Freda Carson the greatest influences in his life.
Outside his work, his Christian faith means everything to him. He is leader at First Portadown Presbyterian Church Christian Endeavour (CE), where 300 young people meet every weekend, in a Bible-based teaching session - “not an easy ‘sell’ these days,” says Gilly. “But we enjoy the fellowship.”
The fellowship is by no means restricted to a “holy huddle”. The group has organised projects which send teams out to Romania, Guinea Bassau, the Dominican Republic, to help orphanages and other vital health and educational projects, and they have been to London, Philadelphia and Bantry on various crusades.
They run the home-based ‘Nite Lite’ project, giving common sense help and succour to people like those who ferquent the Bann Boulevard and other areas in the wee small hours.
Said Gilly, “I became involved with the CE 25 years ago through my great friend Raymond McCrea who sadly died as the result of heart disease many years ago.”
Gilly is an elder at First Portadown, and also sings bass in the church choir.
But it isn’t all work and no play. Gilly Carson has quite a sporting background, having captained Portadown Cricket Club - he was a talented batsman - and played rugby for the town. He still plays a mean game of golf at Portadown and Portstewart (handicap 12) and admits he’s not a good loser!
He also adores going to London, where his favourite pursuits are going to Lord’s cricket ground, worshipping at the legendary All Saints Church, and going to the musical theatre - “I’ve been to Les Miserables 15 times, and plan to go again!”
Gilly attracted around 25 per cent of the votes, but others also fared strongly. Rachelle Liggett, who won the title of MissIreland 2011/12, dance teacher Irene McCann and Atlantic rower Kate Richardson were among those who polled strongly. Times editor Alistair Bushe congratulated Gilly and thanked our readers for the enthusiastic way in which they embraced the competition.
Gilly will be presented with his prizes by the sponsors of the competition, High Street Mall, Magowan West, Meadows Shopping Centre and Nigel O’Hara next week.