Theatre at The Mill hosted the inaugural Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE, Legacy Bursary Scheme awards evening on Thursday, January 30.
Young musicians, volunteers and schools from across the borough were the first to receive this special bursary.
The Legacy Bursary Scheme was launched last year in honour of Mrs Joan Christie who stepped down from her role as Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County of Antrim in June 2019 after 11 years of service.
The scheme is for the support of young people, helping them to believe, achieve and succeed.
A total of eight bursaries for £1,000 each were available across three categories, two for young musicians, two for young volunteers and their club/organisation and two for a horticultural project for schools promoting the education of children with learning and /or physical disabilities.
The evening was opened by the Theatre at the Mill’s Home Spun Youth Theatre group who performed a number of musical hits from the Wizard of Oz which opens on Tuesday, June 30.
Local volunteers Jodie Gourley from Monkstown Boxing Club and Emma Gault from Clare Hares Disability Rugby Team, Ballyclare, were both awarded in the young volunteer category, each receiving a bursary of £1,000.
A further bursary of £1,000 was awarded to each of their clubs which was received by Amy Stewart Youth worker at Monkstown Boxing Club and Ballyclare Rugby Club President Clifford Gilmore.
Visually impaired musician, Oliver Gunning (15), a student at Ballyclare High School wowed the audience with his performance of When You Love Someone by James TW followed by Slemish College student Niall Black age 18, who performed Danse Bohemian on the Marimba before receiving their awards from Joan Christie and our own showman Peter Corry in the young musician category.
In the final category, Horticultural projects, the Mayor and Mrs Christie paid a special visit to all of the schools in the borough which promote the education of children with learning and/or physical disabilities.
During their visit it was very apparent that all the schools would benefit greatly from the bursary.
With the help of local sponsors, Coleman’s Garden Centre, RD Mechanicals, Beechgrove Nursery, Avenue Recycling, Dial a Digger and Pentlands, the council were able to award the bursary to all of the schools.
The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ald John Smyth commented: “This is a celebration of our inspiring, creative, powerful young people and the wide-ranging possibilities offered to them by this most excellent bursary.
“It also celebrates the legacy of Her Majesty’s former Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Joan Christie CVO, OBE, a role she performed with the utmost dedication across Co Antrim.
“Throughout her tenure, Joan supported both legacy councils of Antrim and Newtownabbey and more recently the new Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.”
Joan Christie added: “I was overwhelmed with the calibre of the bursary applications we received. It was a great privilege for me to meet many of these young people first hand and I look forward to seeing how the bursaries will help nurture them for the future.
“I commend the council for their commitment to support young people in the borough and I am thrilled to have these legacy bursaries in my honour.”
Peter Corry rounded off the evening of celebration with his performance of A Million Dreams and Go The Distance.