Young Whitehead ‘Wombles’ awarded sum for sea creature creation

A group of children in Whitehead has won funding for a new sculpture to be installed in the seaside town.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 12:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:48 pm
Mary Nagele, chief executive Arts & Business NI, Marianne McVoy and Peter Kilcullen, Allianz present the Allianz Community Art Award to volunteers Stanley Woods and Steve Diamond, Whitehead Wombles. The award is supported by £2,000 funding from Allianz with runners up The Alive Community Choir and Lámh Dhearg receiving a further £500 each. Photo by Aaron McCracken

The “Junior Wombles” have been awarded £2,000 to create a sea creature built from rubbish collected from the East Antrim coastline.

It will be created in association with Whitehead artist Steve Diamond who came up with the idea of a “Lough Mess Monster”.

The Allianz Arts and Business Award was presented to representatives of the Whitehead Wombles at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

These awards recognise the most creative and pioneering partnerships between business and the arts in Northern Ireland.

Whitehead Wombles were this year’s recipients of the Allianz Community Art Award.

The environmental initiative follows a presentation by community volunteer and “Womble” Noel McKee.

Noel is a familiar sight collecting litter from streets in the Whitehead area, together with Stan Woods, who has been awarded for his “Womble” work.

The pair collect litter every three weeks, summer and winter, over a four-mile stretch from Kilroot to Whitehead filling between 25 and 30 bags with rubbish dropped mainly from passing cars. In summer, they cut grass at three of Whitehead’s main thoroughfares.

During a presentation at Whitehead Primary School, Noel tipped a full bag of rubbish onto the floor to illustrate how much litter passers-by throw from their cars.

Whitehead Primary pupil Rosa McVey was so inspired by Noel’s presentation that she told her mum that she wanted to start up a Junior Wombles group in the town.

Most Sundays, residents and visitors can now see a group of youngsters clearing rubbish from streets.

Martin Bradley MBE, chair of Arts and Business Northern Ireland, commented: “This important event not only celebrates arts and business partnership but it also showcases how the Arts are essential to the health and vitality of our place, cities and communities.

“Thank-you to the Northern Ireland businesses for their investment and support for the arts. We encourage new business partnerships with the arts and invite any businesses interested to talk to us at Arts and Business NI.”