Volunteers praised for community work

Winners at the South Antrim Community Network awards last week.  INCT 48-723-CON
Winners at the South Antrim Community Network awards last week. INCT 48-723-CON
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The hard work of volunteers and community groups in Newtownabbey was recognised at a special prize-giving event last week.

Among the winners at the first ever South Antrim Community Network awards were Burnside Village Committee and New Mossley volunteer David Neill.

The event, which took place on Thursday afternoon at Carrick’s Clarion Hotel, aimed to mark the contribution of a number of groups to the south Antrim area.

Picking up the Community Inclusion Award was David Neill from Bryans House. Mr Neill was recognised for his ongoing work with the mature people of New Mossley along with his fund-raising activities on behalf on NI Children’s Hospice.

The local man organised a number of initiatives to ‘bridge the generation gap’ such as fellowship meetings, shopping trips and coffee mornings.

Meanwhile, the award for an individual project which has built a stronger community went to Burnside Village Committee and their Chairperson Stephen Scott.

The accolade highlighted the organisation’s work within the village of Burnside, with particular focus on youth within the rural area.

The committee, which includes three younger residents, engages with those who are particularly affected by the lack of opportunity in the somewhat isolated area, providing diversionary activities and working with youth on the ground.

The group also aims to provide opportunities for inter-generational, cross-community and inter-cultural contact for better community cohesion. As a result of the committee’s work, there is now a BVC Youth football team, with the organisation funding training venues for the members.

South Antrim Community Network chair Seamus Davis said: “The awards highlighted just how exceptional the people who live in South Antrim are and the tremendous contribution they make within and to their communities. It is very important to say thank you to everyone and to recognise that they are appreciated for their continuous hard work and dedication.”

Wendy Kerr, SACN network manager added: “Congratulations again to everyone who was nominated, to the entrants and all the winners. The community is at the heart of our organisation, and we are so pleased to have over 150 members within the area.”

South Antrim Community Network provides local community development support and a tailored advice service to groups within Carrickfergus, Antrim and Newtownabbey. Members include community and voluntary organisations, village groups and social economy enterprises.