A new community group is aiming to nurture civic pride in the Larne area by promoting its positive attributes to residents and visitors.
The Larne Renovation Generation, born out of the Facebook group of the same name, was created by Andy King and is chaired by his sister Angeline.
The recently-founded organisation hopes to encourage people to use the town’s amenities and support events, and also plans to lobby the council to improve Larne and its surrounding villages.
Angeline told the Times: “There was a real backlash in Larne after the BBC’s True North: I Love Larne documentary last year.
“People were outraged about the portrayal of Larne and they felt it didn’t reflect the town and they felt more confident about speaking out about all that Larne has to offer.
“Larne gets a hard time, but the town is good, it just needs improvement. A lot of people are very proud to be from Larne.”
One of the group’s aims is to boost activity on Larne Main Street in the evenings.
To that end, it has organised a cafe culture evening on June 4 from 5pm-9pm to complement the activities of the Larne Alive festival.
“We are hoping that the cafes will become a hub for people to come down and stay in the town centre in the evening,” Angeline explained.
“We are in talks with the Latharna Creative Collective and we are hoping to have artists with their easels outside cafes, as well as people from Larne Writers’ Grolup doing readings.
“We are also approaching local musicians and music groups in the hope that they will entertain the crowds.
“We hope that the event will bring the town centre alive in a different way and will help to support local traders.”
The group is also compiling a “wish list” of projects which include efforts to improve the town’s visual amenity.
This includes tackling derelict buildings, such as those on Main Street, and walkways.
“Personally, if I see a derelict building I feel frustrated,” Angeline continued.
“The problem is that a lot of these are in private ownership and you don’t know the circumstances which have caused them to be left like that.
“Our focus will be on the town centre as that is used by everyone, but we will also be looking at the wider Larne area.”
The new organisation hopes to enhance the work of existing community groups throughout the town.
“The idea is to build up community spirit throughout the whole area,” Angeline continued.
“In certain areas, like Dixon Park and Ballygally, there are already strong community groups and we want to complement those.
“There has been quite a lot of work done in Larne town centre already and our group is going from the premise that things are good at the minute and we want to make them even better.”
For more information on the group, visit the Larne Renovation Generation community page on Facebook.