Community spirit alive and well

Community spirit: This picture sent in by Andrew Millar shows residents of Derrymore Avenue, Glengormley who worked for more than four hours to clear snow from their street at the weekend. INNT 13-535CON
Community spirit: This picture sent in by Andrew Millar shows residents of Derrymore Avenue, Glengormley who worked for more than four hours to clear snow from their street at the weekend. INNT 13-535CON

WHILE Friday’s heavy snowfall brought misery to many across the borough, it did afford people an opportunity to show that community spirit and being a good neighbour aren’t just nostalgic notions of a bygone era.

In Derrymore Avenue, Glengormley a group of residents worked together for over four-and-a-half hours on Saturday (March 23) to clear snow from their street, enabling people to get in and out of the area.

Resident Bernie Conlon thanked everyone who took part in the snow clearance for all their hard work.

“When we got up on Saturday morning the street was completely blocked off and no-one could get in or out of the place. Some of the residents started to clear their own paths and then more and more people came out to join them and they worked their way along clearing the whole street,” she told the Times.

“I’m sure there were about 20 of them working for close to five hours, so it was hard work. It was a great community effort and a real cross-community effort and I think that should be recognised when there has been so much bad publicity recently.”

Helen Callaghan, chair of the Mayfield Community Association said the events of the past few days had brought out the very best in people.

“The main roads around the area were cleared but the smaller roads around the houses were very bad and people were basically stranded.

“The roads were so bad it meant the Tesco store in the area could not get a delivery and it ran out of milk and bread very quickly.

“But everyone chipped in to help, the community spirit really shone through and it was so good to see. Every cloud does have a silver lining and this really did bring out the very best in everyone.

“People that you don’t even know come to lend a hand and that really does help to build on the community spirit,” she said.

Ballyclare woman Patricia Bryans, who lives on the Green Road, praised a group of young people who helped dig her car out of deep snow.

“There were two boys and two girls aged between 11 and 16 and they went around the area helping people to get their cars out and clear their paths.

“I depend on my car to get about and it was just so nice of them to be able to help out and I’d like to thank them for that. It is not something you would expect these days,” she commented.

And in Glengormley town centre on Friday evening two good Samaritans gave a gritter driver a helping hand, braving the wintry weather to give his lorry a push as it struggled to find traction in deep snow at the Carnmoney Road/Antrim Road junction.

At Monday night’s monthly council meeting, members praised electricity engineers, Roads Service staff and others who braved dangerous conditions to help restore power to people’s homes, clear roads, get food to stranded householders and help maintain essential services.

“The community have really pulled together - I know one community that got together and cleared almost a mile of road (Lisglass Road). And they weren’t doing it for Roads Service, they were doing it for their neighbours,” alderman Paul Girvan said.

Mayor Victor Robinson praised council staff for their work clearing roads in residential areas of Carnmoney, Mallusk and other parts of the borough, and workers from the council’s parks department who helped deliver food parcels to vulnerable people across the borough.

“There has been really good community spirit and people have been working together to clear roads in their own areas. However, I think Roads Service needs to look seriously at supplying a few more salt boxes around the place to help people clear their own areas,” the Ballyduff man commented.

Meanwhile, Newtownabbey Senior Citizens’ Forum was forced to cancel its monthly meeting on Friday, and a number of scheduled events on Monday and Tuesday due to the severe weather. However, a Forum spokesperson said they hoped their programme would get back to normal following the Easter break.