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Spreading Christmas cheer in Bawnmore

Published: Mon, 18 Dec 2017
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Colm Denver (left) and Seamus Kelly, Bawnmore Community Association join John Read, NIHE and artist Janet Crymble (right) at the Nativity scene
After 100 years, nativity statues from a North Belfast church have been restored, with help from the Housing Executive.
Over time, the figures had been substantially damaged, but restoration work from local young people, shepherded by Co. Antrim artist Janet Crymble, has given them a new lease of life, just in time for the festive season.
Almost £3,000 was provided by the Housing Executive, through its Building Relationships In Communities (BRIC 2) Programme, to complete the work.
Seamus Kelly from Bawnmore Community Association, explained;
“Almost ten years ago a Housing Executive representative suggested we get a public Christmas tree in Bawnmore and the council helped us source one for external use.
“A local Priest, Father Alexander, joined Rev. Liz Hughes form the nearby Whitehouse Presbyterian congregation at the lighting event to share some prayers to reflect the good will of the season.
“Afterwards, we spoke to Fr. Alexander about adding nativity figures to accompany the tree and he revealed he was about to dump a pile of broken and damaged statuettes from St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church – they were in such poor repair he wasn’t sure if they were able to be saved.
“Many of the older parishioners remember these being on display when they were children – it’s reckoned they’re around 100 years old.”
Artist Janet Crymble agreed to take on the restoration project and worked with young people in the area to clean the figures, produce new moulds and replace and re-attach limbs.
Painting workshops were also held and local children painted base coats, fine details and final varnish to protect the statuettes from the elements.
The figurines will be on display in the Bawnmore area in the run up to Christmas in a wooden housing built specially by local company Murray’s Sheds.
Seamus believes;
“It’s really given the community a lift – for seven weeks at the darkest time of the year this nativity scene will be on display at Bawnmore Park and will brighten up our community.
“I’d like to thank the Housing Executive for their financial support and help in spreading Christmas cheer in our area.”