A LOCAL history group based in Bellanaleck this week clinched a major new award aimed at celebrating the “unsung heroes” of local heritage in Northern Ireland.

Bellanaleck Local History Group won the ‘Best Rescue, Recording or Interpretation of a Historic Place’ category in the province’s inaugural Heritage Angel awards, organised by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.

Delighted members of the group were presented with their award by TV presenter, Joe Mahon, at a ceremony in the Grand Opera House in Belfast on Tuesday night.

The Bellanaleck group had been nominated for their ‘Making It Home’ project, the incredibly moving story of a group of battle-scarred ex-servicemen who were re-settled on Cleenish Island in County Fermanagh at the end of the First World War.

They focused on the 11 survivors who were settled there, piecing together accounts of their war experiences, the impact this had on their lives and the hardships of having holdings in such a remote location.

Through their research, the group have gathered valuable oral histories and discovered extensive archive material.

A summation of the project has been achieved with the publication of a fully illustrated book titled ‘Making it Home’.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose charitable foundation helped found the awards, said: “Congratulations to all of the winners! They deserve to be celebrated for their significant roles in saving Northern Ireland’s heritage and for the time, enthusiasm, skills and energy that they have dedicated to this important cause. They will now go on to be considered alongside the English and Scottish winners.”