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Mid and East Antrim

Support your Local Craftspeople this Christmas

Support our local #MEArtists and craftspeople this Christmas  – that’s the message from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as the Borough prepares for the busy Christmas shopping period in the weeks ahead.

Following a motion which was brought to Council by Alderman Audrey Wales MBE, Council is encouraging shoppers to consider purchasing handmade arts and craft produce as gifts for friends and family this year.

Alderman Wales said: “In Mid and East Antrim we are blessed with a wonderful array of exceptionally talented artists and craftspeople, each producing exquisite, artisan crafts and produce.

“Their wares make for the most thoughtful gifts for any occasion – be it a special ‘piece of home’ for friends or family living abroad, or simply a beautiful display of intricate craftmanship, often using materials sourced from across the Borough.

“Our local artists and craftspeople are crucial to the culture and heritage of Mid and East Antrim and, as they continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic, we are encouraging local shoppers this Christmas to show their support by giving the gift of local craft,” she continued.

“Council, too, remains strongly committed to doing everything we possibly can to support our local artists and craftspeople, and to encouraging a thriving arts scene in Mid and East Antrim.”

The work of several local craftspeople is exhibited and available to purchase in the Visitor Information Centre at Council’s Ballymena headquarters at The Braid, including:

  • Vera McCullough Jewellery – bespoke jewellery inspired by Slemish Mountain, the surrounding Antrim Hills and the lush Northern Irish countryside. Vera was commissioned to design a brooch and cufflinks to be presented to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to Mid and East Antrim in 2019.
  • WB Woodcraft –items crafted from local, exotic and reclaimed wood and materialsThe range includes birdhouses and feeders, fairy doors and houses, wooden bells, Christmas decorations and postboxes.
  • Lucy Craig Textiles – heritage items such as letters, photographs and other memorabilia preserved onto textiles and combined with hand embroidery to enhance and personalise the work.
  • Country Slate Gifts –unique handmade slate gifts for the home and garden, all of which can be tailored to specific customer requirements.
  • Precious Pebble Art – custom made art and gifts for every occasion, made using local pebbles collected from the North Coast.

Mid and East Antrim

Carrickfergus Castle Children’s Book Depicts its History through the Eyes of a Child

A Carrickfergus grandfather’s adventures with his grandson have inspired the release of a new book called ‘Danny’s Visit to Carrickfergus Castle’.

Bob Harper, from the town, has written the book after many visits to the castle with his grandson prompted questions about its history.

The book details interesting facts and also is beautifully illustrated by Bob.

It takes children on a journey through the castle allowing them to learn as they go.

Speaking about its launch, Bob said he wanted to depict the history of the castle through a child’s eyes and make it an easy, enjoyable learning experience.

“I enjoy many adventures with my grandson around Carrickfergus which is steeped in history, none more so than the stunning Carrickfergus Castle,” Bob said.

“I wanted to create a book for children that would make it enjoyable for them to learn and give them facts that they would always remember.”

The book talks about how Carrickfergus was named after the Rock of Fergus and about the famous knight, John de Courcy, who built the majestic castle which proudly sits on Belfast Lough.

Alderman Billy Ashe MBE congratulated Bob on the publication said it was an “excellent concept for a story and a great way to educate our children on the history of the borough”.

“We are always trying to promote civic engagement for our younger generation and this book is a perfect way to do that,” he added.

‘Danny’s Visit to Carrickfergus Castle’ will be available for purchase in Visitor Centres across the borough at a cost of £5.

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Mid and East Antrim

Professor Brian Cox OBE set to inspire young people in MEA at first Science School for NI!

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is delighted to host the first Science School Northern Ireland hosted by Professor Brian Cox OBE in Autumn of next year.

The Science School aims to inspire young people to become the next generation of scientists with an inspirational programme that mixes the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) through a series of seminars, discussions and hands-on experiments.

Young people will be able to hear from industry and academic leaders who are at the forefront of STEAM subjects as well as from Professor Cox, who will deliver the keynote address.

The Science School will attract 400 pupils from across Northern Ireland with an evening panel session for Mid and East Antrim students and parents to find out about the STEAM Career Pathways available.

Local companies met with Science School organisers to find out more about the initiative and how they can help inspire the next generation of local talent and future workforce and raise the importance of STEAM activities with young people and their parents.

The initiative was established in 2012, at St. Paul’s Way Trust School in East London, by Lord Andrew Mawson OBE and Professor Brian Cox OBE.

The project is now expanding nationally with the aim to make ‘the UK the best place to do science’.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey, said:

“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is delighted to be working with a range of local businesses, schools, universities and partner organisations to bring this exciting opportunity to the borough.

“In the year leading up to the Science Summer School, Council are running a series of schools careers activities including the Junior STEM Ambassador Programme in partnership with STEM NI.

“To date 64 young people have been supported to develop their personal and technical skills to deliver short science-based workshops in primary schools, junior years of secondary schools and youth organisations.

“The STEM Ambassadors and pupils will receive a British Science Association CREST Award for their involvement. I look forward to seeing the creativity and skills of our young people flourishing through this project.”

Lord Mawson OBE added:

“There has never been a better time to be bringing the first Science School Northern Ireland hosted by Professor Cox to Ballymena!

“Science and the desire to learn more about how our world works, and about how we can use that information to improve the way we live our lives, has become extremely attractive and relevant as a subject area and a potential career path.

“The Science School initiative will activate the curiosities of the young people who take part and hopefully inspire them to great things.”

Brian Cox OBE said:

“I am delighted to be coming to Northern Ireland, and to Mid and East Antrim particularly, to meet the next generation of scientists.

“Science is about exploring, and the only way to uncover the secrets of the universe is to go and look!”

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