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Author William Clegg Celebrates Book Listing In Stewart Miller Stores

Crime, Comedy & Combat Tells Story Of Life On The Frontline

Author William Clegg is celebrating the stocking of his debut book Crime, Comedy & Combat in Stewart Miller stores in Holywood and Newtownards.

The book, released in November 2020, is the former RUC officer’s story of 21 years on the frontline as a serving Police officer.

William said: “I’m delighted that Stewart Miller’s have decided to support the book by stocking it in their Holywood and Newtownards stores. It’s a great boost of confidence and a fantastic way of getting the story out to more people.”

Crime, Comedy & Combat traces William’s life from childhood, through to his experiences in the police force during some of Northern Ireland’s darkest days. 

“I joined the RUC in Enniskillen,” William said, adding: “and, for the next 21 years, I and my colleagues lived – and worked – through the horrors of The Troubles. 

“I wrote the book because, even though Northern Ireland is now, thankfully, living in relative peace, I wanted to show people – young people in particular – what life was like for RUC officers at that time. 

“I wanted to reflect the horrific experiences that we went through, and how we coped physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Tina Calder of publishers Excalibur Press believes that William’s tales will resonate with people across Northern Ireland.

“Having independent book shops like Stewart Millers supporting work like this book from William Clegg is testament to the great writing and stories we have to tell here in Northern Ireland” said Tina.

“Excalibur Press were delighted to publish this great anthology of stories from William’s experience. For the last year, we have all been forced to deal with the challenges created by a global pandemic, but we must never forget – regardless of your allegiances – that we lived through some very dark days. William’s story is the human face of those dark days.”

Although he now lives in Indonesia, William’s thoughts are never far from the province and from the colleagues he was proud to serve with in the most challenging times that Northern Ireland has ever known.

“I’m so pleased to see that the people of Northern Ireland – which is a beautiful country – are now able to enjoy relative peace, but I don’t think we can ever truly forget the risk and challenges that serving police officers experienced during the times of conflict. 

“We’ve now had more than 20 years of peace and I totally appreciate that young people will have little or no memory of what The Troubles were like at their height. It was an extremely bleak period and I am proud of how the RUC – my colleagues throughout Northern Ireland – coped with what they witnessed and lived through. I joined the RUC as a young man and so my life was very much shaped by my experiences. Crime, Comedy and Combat is my attempt to reflect our experiences in their entirety. 

“I sincerely hope that this anthology will ring true with anyone, who experienced life in Northern Ireland at that time, whether security services or others.

In Crime, Comedy & Combat William tells his story for people of all ages, how a young person’s life changed during the Troubles, joining the RUC, and the incidents and emotions that coloured his life.

Crime, Comedy and Combat, published by Excalibur Press is available from Amazon and excaliburpress.co.uk

The Arts

Spectacular Ogham Grove Opens Tonight In Cathedral Quarter

Cathedral Quarters Writers’ Square will tonight (September 17) be transformed into a spectacular installation from the creative team for CNB21 Presents: The Ogham Grove.

From 6pm tonight through until Sunday evening visitors can experience an interactive celebration of the ancient druidic language, with massive representations of trees, sounds and lighting weaving a path of learning about the language and the chance to win prizes.

Ogham Grove replaces the previous city centre based programme of street based activity and pop-up events.

Although the plans for this year are monumental in size, Culture Night Belfast and CQ Trust director Susan Picken said visitors should not expect the same on-street celebration as years gone by.

Prior to the pandemic, Culture Night had been one of Belfast’s largest free events, a cultural celebration that attracted almost 90,000 local, national and international visitors to the Cathedral Quarter and Belfast city centre. The impact of COVID has led to a major review of the event however.

Susan said: “Culture Night 2021 will be much smaller in scale and scope and will take the form of an on-site installation that people can drop into and enjoy over the course of the weekend – this different format will allow us to focus on safety as well as making sure everyone has a great time.”

The brains behind the concept include creative lead Gawain Morrison, artist and prop designer Dylan McCaughtry, designer Neil Beattie, lighting designer Tomás FitzGerald and drum loop producer Damian Mills.

Gawain Morrison said that the concept of The Ogham Grove “draws inspiration from the ancient Celtic Ogham Tree alphabet which dives deep into the era where nature and myths intertwined”. 

This year, as well as experiencing The Ogham Grove itself, visitors will be able to take part in an accompanying interactive experience that will lead them through the Cathedral Quarter, and also take them on a journey of personal discovery.

According to Gawain the immersive nature inspired trail and competition will mean visitors can take something special away from the experience.

“For somebody who will be coming to this, the several points of access means it is going to be a very experiential and sensory experience,” he explained. 

“I hope that as visitors walk around whether it’s in the day or night, that they will take something away from it.”

Across the Cathedral Quarter area, there will be five zones each representing one of the five families of the Ogham alphabet.

To be eligible to win a prize, participants must find and scan a QR code found on one of the trail’s bespoke wooden plaques and take note of the lines of poetry displayed.

Prizes to be won include vouchers for restaurants, gift tokens to purchase your own pieces of art and tickets to shows coming up in the Cathedral Quarter and will be announced at the end of the Culture Night weekend.

This year’s Culture Night Belfast is supported by Belfast City Council, Arts Council for Northern Ireland, Tourism NI, Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Translink.

To keep up to date with all the CNB Presents The Ogham Grove updates go to culturenightbelfast.com or follow #CNB21 on social media

Issued by Excalibur Press on behalf of CNB Presents: The Ogham Grove 

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The Arts

£5m Fund to Retain Skills in the Creative Sector

A £5million fund to prevent the loss of the talent and expertise of individuals and freelancers working in the creative sector has been launched by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.

The Creative Individuals Recovery Programme, which opens at noon today, will provide a grant of up to £2,000 per individual eligible application including DJs, artists, performers, sound and lighting technicians, writers, events managers and many other professionals who have been impacted as a result of the public health restrictions on the creative sector.

There is evidence that the creative sectors rely heavily on self-employed and freelance individuals and that many have already left the sectors because of the pandemic, with those remaining facing jobs vulnerability and unaffordable costs relating to re-establishing their creative practice.

Minister Hargey said: “I have listened to the recommendations of the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce, and I have also engaged with the sector. As a result I am today launching a support scheme to provide grants to individuals to encourage them to remain in the creative arts sector.

“The culture, languages, arts and heritage sectors have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 restrictions as they rely heavily on people’s ability to get together which is why the Executive has provided £13million in 2021/2022 to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

“There is a risk that self-employed and freelance individuals may be forced to leave the creative sectors as a result of the pandemic. As the sectors rely heavily on individuals, this could destabilise the sector and the benefits it delivers including social, economic and wellbeing. This new £5m funding scheme aims to prevent loss of sectoral skills for self-employed and freelance individuals and safeguard the sector for the future.

“This fund will help with costs of reactivating, maintaining and enhancing their creative trade, vocation or profession. It is designed to prevent individuals, and their talent and expertise, from leaving the creative economy; and help them re-establish their contribution to the important benefits these sectors deliver.”

Welcoming the funding, chair of the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce Rotha Johnston said:  “Freelancers and the self-employed are critical to the recovery and sustainability of the creative and cultural sectors as a result of the impacts of Covid-19. Many have been deprived the opportunity to use their skills, perform or practice their art in the last 18 months. The Taskforce is of the unanimous view that support for individuals is essential to protect the viability of the sectors going forward. The Taskforce’s findings and recommendations have been developed following extensive engagement with people from across the sectors and our conclusion is that this public investment in culture, arts and heritage will deliver significant benefits to individuals, society and the economy in the short, medium and long term”.

The fund, co-designed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) with the Department for Communities, will be delivered by the Arts Council. For information on how to apply including eligibility criteria please visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/for-individuals

D/deaf and disabled artists will be supported via a separate award via ACNI to the University of Atypical who regularly support this particular cohort, to ensure that artists with particular needs are appropriately supported through the application process.

The scheme is open until 12 noon, 6 October, 2021.

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