Tributes have been paid to one of the borough’s leading businessmen, Mr David Patton MBE, who passed away at the weekend.
It’s understood that Mr Patton had been ill for some time, having suffered a stroke several years ago.
The former Chairman of Patton Group, Mr Patton has been described as a “man whose name was synonymous with Ballymena” by North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley.
Posting on Twitter, Mr Paisley said: “Thoughts and prayers are with the family of wonderful giant in the community David Patton who passed away earlier today [Sunday].
“A true gentleman. A man whose name was synonymous with Ballymena.”
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Councillor Paul Reid expressed his condolences to the Patton family.
“Mr Patton and the Patton Group are synonymous with the construction industry in Northern Ireland,” Cllr. Reid said.
He added: “The Patton Group was a major employer in this borough for several decades, with a proud history dating back more than 100 years.
“Mr Patton had a reputation as a fantastic employer and his firm was renowned for excellence. There were few major construction projects in Northern Ireland in which the Patton Group was not involved.
“The outpouring of sympathy following Mr Patton’s death is testament to the high regard in which he is held in his hometown and throughout Northern Ireland.
“My thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends at this sad time.”
A lifelong rugby fan, Mr Patton was a keen supporter of Ballymena Rugby Club, and was a former Honorary Vice President and Chairman of the club.
Posting on Twitter, the club said: “It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of David Patton.
“David was held in the highest esteem by his many friends in rugby circles throughout Ireland and will be greatly missed.”
Mr Patton served as Chairman of Patton Group for over 60 years and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2009 for services to the construction industry in Northern Ireland.
He stepped down as Chairman in May 2012 when he was in his 79th year and the company celebrated its centenary.
Speaking at the time, Mr Patton said he was “delighted” to have seen the family-owned business reach its 100th year and felt it was time he “stepped aside” from the demanding full-time role to make way for fresh ideas.
At the time of the company’s centenary in 2012, it employed around 320 people and had an annual turnover of £160 million.
Among the company’s landmark projects were Orangefield Primary School in east Belfast and shoe designer Manolo Blahnik’s first European boutique in Dublin.
The company ran into financial difficulties and went in to adminstration in November 2012.
Mr Patton is survived by his wife Shirley, children Jill, Neil and Clare.
He was a much loved grandfather to Jenny, Victoria, Timothy, Patrick, Jack and Amy.
A funeral service will be held in First Ballymena Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, January 24 at 12 noon with interment afterwards at Second Broughshane New Cemetery.
The family have requested that the house is strictly private, with no cards or letters and family flowers only. Donations in lieu, if desired, may be sent to James Henry Funeral Services, 100 Broughshane Street, Ballymena BT43 6EE for the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association.