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St John Ambulance 999 Defibrillator Fund Walk Underway

Volunteers from St John Ambulance are walking and running 999km throughout June in a monumental feat, to raise funds to replace the organisation’s life-saving defibrillators.

With more than 150km already completed, volunteers from St John Ambulance Head Quarters Transport Division have dedicated yet more of their time and take on the challenge.

Interim Unit Manager Neil Fusco of St John Ambulance explained that their four emergency frontline ambulances and rapid response vehicle are all vital.

“These vehicles are all equipped to the same standard as the statutory ambulance service,” he said. 

“Sadly, their defibrillators are coming to the end of life and the division needs to buy new ones. Each defibrillator costs around £1,500 and five are needed.”

With the walk underway Neil said it is an extreme challenge.

“Trust us, after chatting to some of the volunteers we can concur that their challenge to walk 999km is no easy feat to achieve,” he said. 

“That is more than 620 miles, but all are willing, even if there may be some blisters to treat.”

St John Ambulance Head Quarters Transport Division based in Carryduff is a well-recognised sight at events like the Ulster Rugby and out and about supporting the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

“During the Covid crisis the St John volunteers stepped forward to assist in many ways including responding to calls for Emergency Ambulance Control and transporting Covid positive patients, explained Neil. 

“Since the pandemic began the division has assisted NIAS on over 162 shifts, attending to 427 patients, covering 10,799 miles, over 1,082 hours.”

To help keep each vehicle at the standard required they will need to replace the equipment.

“Any donation, no matter how small, will help the unit to buy these new life-saving defibrillators,” he said. 

“Every donation, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated.”

If you’d like to know more or donate, please visit the division’s fundraising page at

For more information on the vital work that St John Ambulance undertakes visit


Murphy Announces Business Rates Revaluation

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has today announced a revaluation of all 74,750 non-domestic properties, delivering on his commitment for more frequent revaluations here.

Known as ‘Reval2023’, this process will result in a new non-domestic Valuation List being used to calculate business rate bills from April 2023.

Announcing the revaluation, Minister Murphy said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the economy resulting in changes between business sectors and this will feed through to changes to the rental values of many properties.

“Although the last revaluation was just over a year ago in 2020, I have asked Land & Property Services to bring forward another revaluation in the shortest possible time.

“Reval2023 will maintain fairness and ensure businesses are paying rates which take account of the impact of the pandemic.”

Commenting on support provided to businesses, Minister Murphy added: “Since April 2020, I have provided over £500 million of additional business rates support, with many businesses paying no rates at all over two years. The Executive has also provided significant financial support to businesses in the form of grants.

“As we look ahead to economic recovery and given the large scale of a revaluation it is important this work gets underway now.”

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises including shops, offices, warehouses, factories, hotels and pubs as well as utilities such as gas, water, electricity and wind farms.

Land & Property Services will begin collecting property information from business ratepayers later this year. This important information will form a database of new rental values as at 1 October 2021, instead of the current 2018 values, and will be used in assessing new rateable values for every property.

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Town and City Centre Investment Helping Thousands of Businesses in Their Recovery

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is pictured with Bryan Graham of Graham’s of Enniskillen who availed of Covid-19 Revitalise funding for his business to purchase new sanitizing stations and protective screens.

A £19.3million funding programme to support town and city centres recover from the impact of Covid-19 has helped thousands of businesses across councils, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said. 

Launched in August 2020, initial funding for the Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme was for measures such as shop frontage and awnings/canopies; outdoor furniture; heaters and queueing systems. More recently the funding support longer term initiatives such as the creation of cycle paths and pedestrian walkways to encourage car-free shopping, small environmental improvements and the use of open space and vacant premises to provide safe facilities.

Total funding for the scheme was made up of £12million from the Department for Communities, £5million from the Department for Infrastructure and £2.3million from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

Speaking after visiting business in Enniskillen who availed of the funding Minister Hargey said: “The Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme is an excellent example of collaborative working and was created to help and support our urban and rural businesses deal with the impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In total the funding has supported over 3,000 businesses across the north which has helped them to reopen safely. The funding has also been used to encourage people back into our towns and city centres to spend time, to support our local businesses and ultimately to help keep our town and city centres alive and prosperous.

“It has delivered funding of £1.29million to Fermanagh & Omagh District Council to support a range of projects including grants to support businesses across the entire Council area as they prepared a pathway out of lockdown by assisting them to provide a safer shopping experience for all their customers. I was pleased to see at first hand today how some of this support has been received by businesses in Enniskillen.”

Cllr. Chris McCaffrey (Vice Chairperson) Fermanagh & Omagh District Council added: “Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to working in partnership to improve the lives of all the people of the district and this approach has delivered tangible benefits making the district an attractive place to live, work and visit.    

The Council has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Department for Communities over a number of years and it is a partnership we look forward to continuing to develop into the future for the benefit of our businesses and the wider community.   

The £1.2million funding through the Covid-19 Business Recovery and Revitalisation Grant Aid Scheme has been used to support businesses to respond to the impacts of the Covid-19 health pandemic, to encourage people to support local to aid economic recovery and to deliver schemes which will promote and revitalise our town centres.  

The Council will continue to work with the Department for Communities and other partners to provide assistance to local businesses and aid the recovery of the district into the future.”

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