Creating Community Cheer in Gortnaghey

A woman and her two children pose in front of snowmen
Housing Executive patch manager Martina Forrest and her children, Callum and Aidan in the photo booth

Community spirit was in flying high last month, with the Housing Executive part funding Gortnaghey Community Association to host a Christmas community event.

Other community events planned earlier in the year had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic; however the group were determined to bring some festive cheer and put community funds to good use.

An outdoor walk-through lights experience was created in the Gortnaghey Road area of Dungiven with a lighted walkway leading families and local residents to different ‘booths’, such as a Nativity crib, reindeer with their sleigh, and a snowmen photo booth, to mention a few.

Held every evening for 2 weeks in the run up to Christmas, this special, low-key experience was particularly welcome to local families who had caring responsibilities for family members with special needs.

Eithne Burke, Centre Co-ordinator for Gortnaghey Community Association, explains why they ran this event for the local residents.

“With 2020 being a year like no other, we wanted to reach out to people bearing in mind social distancing.

“Family events and meeting up in large crowds was not an option, so we used funding from the Housing Executive, along with funding from the The National Lottery Community Fund and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to create this special ‘Gortnaghey Lights up the Park.’

“Local residents and neighbouring Burnfoot residents visited the outside attraction as family units, which was particularly important for people who were shielding.  Community helpers kept an eye on proceedings from afar and everyone enjoyed the light display.

“Many people remarked on the peaceful setting and their ability to bring family members with special needs as there were no crowds.

“We were particularly pleased that frontline workers in the area could bring their families and enjoy some much needed down time in their local community.

“Thanks to the Housing Executive and the other funders for helping to make this happen.”

Housing Executive Patch Manager, Martina Forrest, was delighted to bring her children to the attraction.  She said:

“This is a fabulous project that Gortnaghey Community Association has worked hard to bring together for the local residents here.

“The Housing Executive is very proud to have helped make this event happen and bring some festive cheer to the community.  Well done everyone involved!”

Is this page helpful?
Yes No