NEWTOWNABBEY Community High School launched a new book showcasing some of the talented people to have hailed from Rathcoole.
‘Born & Bred in Rathcoole’ features poets, community workers, footballers, entrepreneurs, charity workers and musicians who, having grown up in the estate have gone on to distinguish themselves in their respective fields.
The book was a collaboration between Newtownabbey Community high School, Rathcoole Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership, Newtownabbey Family Connections and the council.
Pupils involved from the Prince’s Trust group in the school researched, compiled and produced the book along with the help of our own photographer Freddie Parkinson.
And last week the school launched the book at a special ceremony with scores of invited guests packing out the assembly hall.
Art teacher Gary Armstrong, who coordinated the project, said: “This book was produced to reflect the positive and ambitious nature of the people of Rathcoole.
“There is a diverse range of people from all walks of life who have set themselves aside and succeeded in their areas.
“The project also helps the pupils develop on new skills such as in art, digital photography and ICT.”
Newtownabbey Mayor Victor Robinson, who lived in the estate, officially launched the book, he told the audience of assembled guests: “I am delighted to be here to help launch this book.
“It is a fantastic achievement from the pupils and a testament to the good work that goes on in Rathcoole.
“Often there is a lot of negative media attention directed towards the estate and this book shows that there is a lot of hard work and dedication going on in the background to make life in the estate better for all.”
Included in the book is household names such as Northern Ireland footballer Jonny Evans and composer John Anderson alongside community workers such as Bryan Phillips who lost both legs while on duty with the army in Afghanistan and Billy Snoddy who has worked tirelessly for the community.
Two of those featured in the book attended the launch and gave an insight into their lives and how, against diversity and set back, they were determined to succeed.
Movie House owner Michael McAdam talked about his early life after leaving school with two poor CSEs in English and maths to working for UTV and going on to run his own picture house in Portrush before opening up the Movie House and investing in films.
He added: “People used to say to me you’ll never get far with an address in Rathcoole, but that just made me more determined.
“The best lesson I ever learnt was that everyone has the same opportunity and it is those that spot them and take them that succeed in life.
“If you show you have the hungar and desire, you will succeed.”
Northern Ireland international footballer Danielle McDowell spoke of her passion and determination to play football.
Since playing in numerous teams as a child, including boys’ teams, she has gone on to represent Northern Ireland at all levels including senior.
The 26-year-old even decided to join NCHS because the coach promised she could play in the school team.
She said: “People told me I was a girl and that I should be interested in dolls and prams, but I just wanted to kick a ball.
“I’ve represented Northern Ireland at all levels and been capped at international. I’ve travlled the world, visiting over 30 countries.
“Newtownabbey Community High allowed me that opportunity and I will always be grateful.”
School principal John Lewis told the Times: “Everyone who worked on this project has produced a fantastic book, it’s a great achievement.
“It promotes potential and I hope people will read this and see that dreams and aspirations can become a reality.”