I attended Ballyholme Primary School, Bangor Grammar School and eventually the University of Ulster where I gained my MBA. I have worked since leaving school at 18 and have been employed within the Health Service, worked as a Management Consultant and am currently employed by Belfast Metropolitan College as a Lecturer in Economics and Leadership.
In the 1990's I volunteered with a charity in Romania which carried out support interventions with sexually abused children [commonly known as 'Sewer Kids' because that's where they lived]. We also supported HIV hospices for children's hospital units. Inspired by the work of the folk in Romania I organised three 'sleep outs' in Bangor between 2000–2002 — these were in December every year where volunteers agreed to sleep out in cardboard boxes for 48 hours [without food other than that which they could beg]. These were very successful in highlighting the plight of homeless and abused children; they also raised £20,000 to assist in the charitable work.
In 2009 I transformed an old Renault Laguna into an amphibious car called 'Sir Tristram' and with my crew we sailed it from Northern Ireland to Scotland (setting a new world record) and raising over £7500 for 'Help for Heroes'. The video of the event can be found here.
For 18 years I volunteered with Safezone, a Christian outreach based in Bangor on Friday and Saturday nights between 9pm – 2am. Safezone provides tea and coffee, administers first aid and practical help to those in need. You will easily recognise Safezone –they are the ones with the luminous yellow vests!
I am a keen fisherman, political blogger and I run one of the largest internet web sites on British Film – 'British Cinema Greats'. I take an avid interest in world history and politics and I am an unashamed supporter of the land and people of Israel. Over the last 15 years I had a very close connection with the Rev Chris Bower the founding Missioner of an Order called the 'Heart of St Patrick'. This Order seeks to make sense of the Gospel in a rapidly changing society on both sides of the Border. Chris was my Chaplain during my Mayoral term but very sadly died in October 2014. His like will not be seen again.
Since being elected I have written two major policies documents for my party. One of them addressed the on-going issue of ‘Educational Underachievement’ in Northern Ireland and was called 'No Child Left Behind'. This report has now informed policy making in Northern Ireland. The 2nd report examines how children can get involved in the criminal justice system at a young age and how we can prevent that happening. It is called 'Hope For Every Child' and was the first of its kind every produced by a political party in NI. I very am passionate about how we improves the lives of all the children in Northern Ireland and both of these reports have affected change in these areas.
I am married to Melanie and we had our first child Lucy Grace in April 2011 and we were then blessed by a son Samuel James in August 2013. Finally another son Zachary John came along in October 2015 and he is a real handful! We attend West Presbyterian Church and I help at the Junior Beginners with the 3 & 4 year olds, which some may say is not my skill area!