Celebrating Difference Ballymena Style

 All together now!

All together now!

Glenravel District Community and Residents Association (GDCRA) and Richmount Rural Community Association (RRCA) Portadown are two forward thinking community groups who are living proof that "celebrating difference" is definitely not boring.

This remarkable relationship started last year when Joe Garvey, Chairperson of RRCA, met Marian Maguire, Chairperson of GDCRA, during a best practice visit to discuss the development of an oil buying club which is just one of Glenravel’s many successful projects.

Impressed by the group, Joe set out to develop a cross-community project with the Ballymena Group with funding from the Community Relations Council NI. In October last year, 50 of Glenravel's “Young at Heart” group bussed it to Portadown to enjoy a day of hospitality as well as visiting sights such as Drumcree Church.

This year, with help from Gillian Forrest Liaison Officer from Supporting Communities, the group secured further funding for a second part of the programme through the Mid and East Antrim Council Good Relations Programme.

On Wednesday 2 March 2016, the good people from the Richmount Rural Community Association braved the Ballymena weather and joined the Glenravel group for a Mayor's Reception in the Braid Centre where the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council Billy Ashe and Cllr Paul Maguire welcomed both groups. This was followed by a tour of the Glens and a cultural event with plenty of food and laughter throughout the day.

Cllr Billy Ashe said, “It was a pleasure to host the members of this cross-community group in the Parlour at The Braid. With funding from our Good Relations grant scheme, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been pleased to help the Supporting Communities initiative in organising this important programme. I hope the members of both Glenravel District Community and Residents Association and the Richmond Rural Community Association enjoyed their day out in Ballymena and their tour of the Glens.”

Marian Maguire from GDCRA stated, “I would like to thank Gillian Forrest from Supporting Communities for helping us to secure the funding to make this event happen. I would also like to thank the Mid and East Antrim Council for providing the funding. Today has been so rewarding, it has been so good to work with the Portadown group who have completed so much in a short period of time and have inspired us, to build upon, and continue the good work we have started”.

Joe Garvey commented “We really appreciated the hospitality shown by MEA council and our friends from Glenravel. We welcome this opportunity to share our diversity and cultures. We strongly believe we should learn and respect each other’s cultures and we hope to be able to continue this with Glenravel and perhaps a few other groups in the near future.”

Gillian Forrest from Supporting Communities concluded, “This has been a super day full of fun and laughter with many friendships being forged.  It was so good to be able to find out about each other’s culture in a safe and fun way.  I felt so privileged to be a part of this day, and I am looking forward to part 3, to be continued!!”