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All aboard! Amazing Stena Line Kids Cruises

LEADING ferry company Stena Line is inviting children to take to the seas once again and enjoy a fun-filled family day out with a difference as the hugely popular Kids Cruises return this February.

Your little ones can spend a day on the seas dressed up as a pirate or princess or even transform in to their favourite superhero! With different themed cruises running throughout the year there is something to suit everyone and plenty of time for parents to find the perfect costumes for all little sailors.

Tickets are available from only £12 per person, with family tickets (2 adults and 2 children/infants) from only £44. Kid’s Cruises are particularly suitable for under-8s, but all children are very welcome to join in on the fantastic family fun that’s guaranteed for passengers from the moment they board.

Kids will be delighted with a day of dressing up, dancing, face-painting, karaoke, disco, party games, balloon modelling and much more as they sail across the Irish Sea. Families will also be gifted a £5 off shopping voucher when they spend £25 or more in the onboard shop.

Orla Noonan, Travel Commercial Manager (Irish Sea North) at Stena Line said:

“We are delighted that the kid’s cruises are making a welcome return on the Irish Sea for another year. The cruises have grown in popularity and we’re expecting this year to be bigger and better than ever!

“The kid’s cruises are like no other family activity available and whether you are looking for a day out with a difference for the kids or a fun birthday party idea, the cruises will be a special treat for all onboard.

“Of course the cruises are designed to entertain the little ones but we haven’t forgotten about the adults, with plenty of onboard amenities to avail of such as speciality coffee from Barista and great places to eat and drink. Customers can stay in touch during the cruise using our free Wi-Fi and touchscreen computers as well as enjoy the free cinema. Our onboard shop is also available to all passengers, offering up to 50% savings compared to the high street so you can look forward to a bit of retail therapy,” Orla added.

The non-landing cruises depart Belfast at 11.30am and set sail for Cairnryan, returning to Belfast at 5.45pm.

Pirates and Princesses Cruise departs on 10th February, 3rd March, 5th, 14th & 21st April, 5th & 26th May, 8th & 29th September and 13th October.

Superheroes Cruise departs on 17th February, 17th & 24th March, 7th & 28th April, 12th May and 15th & 22nd September.

Wizards and Witches Cruise departs on 30th October and 1st November.

See Santa at Sea Cruise departs on 24th & 25th November and 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th & 16th December.

For further information or to book go to www.stenaline.co.uk/kidsfun, call 08447 70 70 70 or visit your local travel agent. Book early to avoid disappointment.

* All cruises are subject to availability. Terms and Conditions apply.

**See website for more details

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Travel & Tourism

Galgorm Collection Goes for gold in New Partnership with NOW Group

Pictured celebrating the announcement are (L-R): Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group, Laura Millar, Group HR Manager at Galgorm Collection, Richard Magowan, Group Staff Engagement Officer Galgorm Collection and Tiarnán O'Neill, Group Finance Director at Galgorm Collection. Photo Credit: Philip Magowan / PressEye

Northern Ireland’s leading hospitality group, Galgorm Collection, today confirmed a new three-year strategic partnership with the NOW Group which will see the first ever Gold Jam Card membership on the island of Ireland awarded to a hospitality partner.

Established in 2000, the NOW Group is a social enterprise focused on supporting people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future. The group’s JAM Card Gold Membership is awarded to businesses that demonstrably place diversity and accessibility at the heart of business.

Through the programme, Galgorm Collection will place its full team through rigorous training to become JAM Card friendly, which means that guests requiring additional time and patience can discretely alert team members and ask for ‘Just A Minute’. It is hoped that the new initiative will help to support guests and visitors with learning difficulties, autism, or communication barriers to experience its full five-star service.

Galgorm Collection has also committed to creating at least five new jobs for people living with autism and enrolled with NOW Group’s employment service. The new jobs cover a range of hospitality roles throughout Galgorm’s collection of properties in Belfast, Ballymena, Crawfordsburn and Templepatrick.

Tiarnán O’Neill, Group Finance Director at Galgorm Collection, said:

“As a responsible business and major local employer, Galgorm Collection is deeply committed to excellence and inclusivity which is firmly embedded within our business. We’re delighted to be the first hospitality partner on the island of Ireland set to achieve Gold Jam Card Membership status and affirm our commitment to supporting our communities.

We continually strive to exceed customer expectations and offer an unforgettable service across our collection of award-winning, luxury hotels and restaurants and I’m delighted that this partnership will enable us to deliver this to all guests.

We’re also thrilled to confirm a new three-year strategic partnership with the NOW Group to really drive our credentials in the area of diversity and inclusion and to provide new employment opportunities to those living with autism or learning difficulties, which we hope to build on throughout the partnership.”

Photo Credit: Philip Magowan / PressEye

Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group, said:

“We are thrilled to confirm Galgorm Collection as our first strategic hospitality partner and to work with the group in achieving Gold JAM Card Membership which represents our top mark for diversity and inclusion.

Since launching the JAM Card initiative in 2012, the scheme has been a resounding success with more than 1,800 organisations across the region participating in the training programme. We’re delighted to now build upon that momentum by announcing a new strategic partnership with Northern Ireland’s leading hospitality group which will take the programme to the next level.

Galgorm Collection is a key strategic partner for us and we’re excited to work closely with the group to deliver upon this new programme. Not only will this partnership create new employment opportunities for our service users, but it will allow Galgorm Collection to lead the hospitality industry in terms of neurodiversity and how it supports vulnerable customers.

We hope that this programme will encourage other organisations across all industries to see the benefits of joining us in committing to support those with visible and hidden disabilities through our JAM Card initiative.” 

In addition to the new jobs created, Galgorm Collection will further support the NOW Group’s social enterprise Loaf Pottery. Located in Crawfordsburn, the café and ceramics shop sits directly opposite Galgorm Collection’s newest venture, The Old Inn, which was acquired by the group earlier this year.

Through the partnership, pottery and ceramics crafted from the shop will be made available for sale across Galgorm Collection’s properties, reaching an expanded customer base and promoting the enterprise to new audiences from near and far.

For more information on the Gold JAM Card Membership or JAM Card Initiative, please visit jamcard.org or nowgroup.org.

For more information on Galgorm Collection’s commitment to communities, please visit galgorm.com/about-us.

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Travel & Tourism

Embrace A Unique Art Experience On Picturesque Farm On The Causeway Coastal Route

Perched just a couple of hundred yards from The Gobbins Cliffs, Audrey Kyle offers a unique art workshop, helping people learn the skills of painting as well as connecting with nature.

Folklore and the landscape of the Islandmagee peninsula, shaped by the sea, offers a stunning backdrop to learn art away from the daily hustle and bustle of modern life.

Audrey Kyle Art operates on a simple premise – learning a new skill in a tranquil setting.

It is a concept Audrey developed after re-discovering her affinity for painting.

“I had been working in the corporate world in HR, but eight years ago I took a change in direction and haven’t looked back,” she explained. “I began painting, started to get commissions and my new career started from there”

Audrey opened the Gobbins Studios to showcase her own work, but has since opened the studios for classes.

This Saturday August 1 from 12pm – 4pm, Audrey will be hosting an open studio where she will be displaying some brand new pieces that incorporate organic materials.

“What is offered is quite different to what other art classes offer,” she said. “As well as learning the skills of watercolours it is very much aimed at creating a relaxing, mindful experience.”

It also helps that the studio is part of a working farm with a livery stable and a flock of 50 Suffolk ewes.

“Where we are situated means we have a stunning landscape and an active farm,” Audrey said.

“There are so many aspects that can be drawn upon. And, as it changes through the seasons it offers many different inspirations.

“For example, in the summertime we do watercolour workshops and experience days where the people that visit can go for a walk through the meadow and through the woodland, we collect wild grasses and wildflowers and then they come back to the studio and paint them.”

Most classes last for three hours and can accommodate up to six people. However, there are also special summer sessions.

“In summer I host experience days, which last for five hours including lunch, and woodland and cliff top walk along with the watercolour practice.

“This enables the folklore to be incorporated to build experiences of the folklore of Ireland and really embrace the spirit of this remarkable area.”

Art Fans are welcome to join Audrey Saturday August 1 at The Gobbins Studio from 12 pm- 4 pm to view some of the artist’s latest work.

You can find out more and book classes at audreykyleart.com or contact Audrey directly on 07712464966

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