The former principal of a North Belfast school is to be honoured at the University of Ulster’s graduation ceremonies this summer. PJ O’Grady, who retired as principal of St Patrick’s Bearnageeha last year, will receive an honorary doctorate for his role in helping to transform the school and for his contribution to the local community.

Mr O’Grady spent 14 years at the Antrim Road school and is widely regarded to have transformed it into one of the North’s most respected secondary schools.

Speaking to the North Belfast News PJ said he was delighted to receive the honour, but said he couldn’t have done it without a close support network in the school.

“It was very gratifying to receive this award from such an honourable establishment as the University of Ulster,” he said.

“It might be my name on the honour but I consider it to be a testament to a unique blend of teamwork between all of the teaching staff, the support staff, the board of governors, all the parents and of course the boys, without whose help I couldn’t have done the job I tried to do.

“The boys are second to none and always will be second to none and I will continue to watch their success closely.”

He said he is now enjoying his retirement but does miss the daily life of running a school.

“I do miss the boys and my former colleagues and the great challenge that was Bearnageeha. It was a very enjoyable and fulfilling time.”

Amongst those who will also be honoured by the University this year include US Open Golf Champion Rory McIlroy, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, actor Ian McKellen and Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody.