“Our group got together in the spring of 1994 – we began with just four members!”, Patricia Donaghy told Supporting Communities Community Development Officer, Jordan Laverty.
When she first moved to Maryville (a blow-in all the way from Lurgan she says laughingly), Patricia remembers there were some issues with sectarianism in the area. Along with other young mothers in the area, she wanted to make sure the place was somewhere she wanted to raise her family and looked for ways to get involved in the community. Now, the grandmother of three, Patricia says they are “really lucky to have a very good cross community feeling” in the area, due in no small part to the community building efforts of Maryville Community Group.
The founding group grew quickly to a solid 12 members under the leadership of the late Eric Dermot who chaired the group for many years. Patricia, who has taken her turn holding all the committee posts over the years, has seen the group through thick and thin. She proudly recalls officially establishing themselves as a cross community group and getting a boost from Peace II funding in their early days.
The group was maintained for many years by a core group who have given their time and efforts freely, but after several of the founding members passed away, it became difficult to recruit new people and it looked like the group might have to dissolve. The Supporting Communities Community Development Officer at the time, Siobhán ONeill, talked to the group about getting new people involved.
“Siobhán has been a great help to us. We were about to disband when she came to talk to us. Although we were down to only a few members, she had us look back over all those years and we saw what we had achieved. Then she told us we were the only active group in the area HCN, so what does that tell you?”
- Patricia Donaghy
Patricia knew that the group needed to continue. After a public meeting and a recruitment push, a new group of young mothers came on board, saving the group from dissolution in 2017. Supporting Communities helped the group to update its constitution and secure new funding to give it the kick start it needed.
The group has now totally refreshed its board and recently welcomed a new husband and wife team, Brian and Rachel Davidson, to serve as joint chair along with Frances Dorrian as vice chair, Leanne McCreedy as the group’s secretary, and Patricia who is currently fulfilling the treasurer’s role.
The new board recently took part in Supporting Communities ‘Effective Meetings’ training which has helped them get up to speed and learn to work together. There was a lot of positive feedback from this session. Committee members said they now have a much better understanding of their roles and what is expected of them.
“We hope to continue to work together as a strong team to help our community”, says Patricia.
Supporting Communities continues to support the group through an annual estate inspection and regular support meetings with Jordan which cover topics like funding, good governance, housing, and environmental issues. The group also attends the Banbridge Inter-Agency meetings and the Banbridge Housing Community Forum.
The area is bustling with lots of children and young families and the Maryville Community Group is keen to carry on involving new people and to get some more young parents into the group, as they are the focus of much of their work these days.
The group organises frequent outings and events for both children and adults in the area as well as an Annual Family Fun Day in August with funding support from the National Lottery Community Fund and the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. As treasurer, Patricia is also very grateful for the support of many of the local businesses in the area who have contributed to the group over the years.
Supporting Communities congratulates Maryville CG on an impressive 25 years of community work, and we celebrate their story of resilience in the face of a continuously changing funding environment and the ongoing challenge of recruiting new committee members to ensure a group’s longevity.