Busy group kindles community spirit among Harbour residents

Members of the Larne Harbour Community Group are pictured with Councillor Michael Lynch at their AGM. INLT 41-002-PSB
Members of the Larne Harbour Community Group are pictured with Councillor Michael Lynch at their AGM. INLT 41-002-PSB

a THRIVING community spirit, involving all generations, continues to grow at Larne Harbour.

Those in attendance at the Harbour Community Group annual meeting heard chairperson Stephen Liddle outline a busy year, including highlights such as the extension of the youth club to two nights a week and the establishment of a monthly seniors’ club.

“One of our key goals as a community group was to bring about a sense of community spirit in the Harbour area; I think we have gone a long way to achieving that by bringing our senior citizens together socially and providing a dedicated youth club for our young people,” said Mr Liddle.

A wide variety of activities and events from the past year were recalled, including on-going discussions with Larne Counciil regarding possible premises and the new pavilion planned for Sandy Bay.

“We remain hopeful that a building can be secured as a community venue for the Harbour area,” Mr Liddle said.

The NEELB-registered youth club continues to thrive and is staffed by dedicated volunteers headed up by youth leader Roberta Forsythe. Thanks were extended to Roberta, Barbara, Kim, Lynsay, Robyn and James for their dedication.

The club is open twice a week, on Tuesday from 6pm to 7.30pm and on Thursday from 7pm to 9pm. There is an older youth drop in 9pm to 11pm.

“Up to 70 children attend the club every week and have enjoyed a fun programme of activities including arts and crafts, games nights, cookery, visits from PSNI and NI Fire and Rescue Service. Trips to the open farm, cinema, bowling, Indiana land, W5, ice skating, Loudon Castle, Lisburn swimming pool, Grand Opera House and to the local police station,” Mr Liddle said.

Other youth activities include programmes looking at the effects of bullying through group discussions and fun activities and a cross-community programme funded under the NE Peace III programme involving six children from the Harbour youth club and six children from Carnlough Youth Club which explored history and culture, identity and stereotyping. There were also exchange visits the group also travelled to the Battle of the Boyne site, Derry’s walls and to Dublin Castle and Kilmainham jail.

The youth involved in the drop-in centre have been involved in a number of initiatives, a drugs awareness programme and a single identity programme.

“They have been involved in exploring their cultural identity through a number of trips and to mural sites in N Ireland. They decided that a mural in the area that reflected the Harbour community would be a worthwhile project. The results are the colourful murals at the entrance to the car park on Curran Road,” said Mr Liddle.

He added that the senior citizens programmes have proved very popular, headed up by members Mel, Dorothy and Mary, whom he thanked for their time and commitment.

Two very successful well-being programmes were held, including speakers on home safety and well being, reflexology and massage demonstration, a visit by the Indian community, armchair aerobics, card making, crafts/knitting, reminiscence morning, beauty treatments, Good Morning Larne and a tea dance.

There were also bus outings for senior residents to Springhill Moneymore, Magherafelt and the Ulster Folk and Transport museum.

Due to the success of the well-being programmes, a monthly drop-in for tea and a chat is held on the second Tuesday of each month in St Cedma’s Church hall.

“We are very proud of the efforts of our senior citizens who have been busy knitting beautiful clothing and preparing gift boxes. Baby knitted clothes, bonnets and booties have been distributed to both Antrim Hospital Neo Natal unit and to the Royal Maternity hospital.

“Knitted jumpers have been donated to two local missionary groups and boxes have been filled and sent to Blythswood Care for distribution in Romania and to the Royal British Legion,” Mr Liddle added.