Fermanagh Rural Community Network (FRCN) held their Annual General Meeting and Celebrating Community Achievement Awards event in The Archdale Memorial Hall, Ballinamallard on Monday October 15 at 7.45pm

Louise McLaughlin Chairperson of FRCN welcomed those in attendance followed by an overview of The Archdale Memorial Hall by Henry Robinson.

Network Co-ordinator Barry Boyle spoke of the work of FRCN over the past year in providing practical and timely community developmental support and advice for groups throughout County Fermanagh.

The guest speakers for the evening were Joanne McDowell, Northern Ireland Director of Big Lottery Fund and Kieran Downey, Deputy Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

During her speech, Ms. McDowell gave an overview of her organisation’s ‘people led’ approach to funding, their learning over the last couple of years in adopting this approach and the wider opportunities to work with them.

The new ‘Pathfinder’ initiative was introduced by Mr. Downey on the evening and he explained that extensive community engagement and discussions will take place over the next number of months on health and social care services.

In the Celebrating Community Achievement Awards, winners were announced in the two categories ‘Local Community Activity’ and ‘An Individual Who Has Made a Difference’. The awards were presented by Ms. McDowell and Mr. Downey as comments on the nominees and winners were read by Mr. Boyle.

The first award announced on the evening was the ‘Local Community Activity ‘which was awarded to the group ‘Kesh Carnival.’

During the presentation, Mr. Boyle outlined the work and achievements of the Kesh Carnival group. He said: “They continually adapt and evolve their activity based within Kesh village, to ensure involvement by their local community and visitors to the area over nine days during which over 83 events take place. The group members gave of their time and expertise over a long period of time to organise activities so that all participants and attendees benefited from a high standard of event. The group actively involved their local community in assisting operate activities with many varied tasks from making tea to collecting ducks from a river.”

He continued: “The Kesh Carnival is an excellent example of local community activity as the event builds a sense of community within the village by having all members of the community working together and by attracting visitors to the area. The event raises substantial funds for a number of charities every year and also makes a significant contribution to the local economy.”

Certificates of Recognition were also presented for this award category to Cleenish Parent and Toddler Group, Boho Community Association, Bellanaleck Local Historical Group, Cashel Community Association, Boho Summer Club, Belcoo Parent and Toddler Group and Knocks Drama Group.

The second and final award announced on the evening was for ‘An Individual Who Has Made a Difference.’

This award included a cup commissioned by FRCN in memory of one of their founding members Gabriel D’Arcy who passed away in October 2011.

FRCN were very grateful that Gabriel’s family were represented by his son Gerald who presented the cup to the winner Robert Anderson of Kesh Carnival.

Mr. Boyle noted: “Robert had been nominated for the work undertaken within his local community of Kesh, especially in the role of Chairperson of Kesh Carnival committee over the past eight years – this being a role undertaken fully despite his employment being in Belfast, almost 100 miles away from Kesh.”

He continued: “It was noted that through Robert’s chairmanship Kesh Carnival has flourished and went from strength to strength and despite all the work involved in overseeing and organising a nine day programme of activities, he takes it all in his stride and continues to grow the number of events, volunteers and supporters year on year to ensure that this is a true community led and driven event.”

All other nominated individuals for this category were presented with Certificates of Recognition. They nominees included: Emmett McNulty, Lakeland Community Care; Jayne Thompson, North Fermanagh Fitness Club; Fiona Balfour, Belcoo Parent and Toddler Group; Jennifer McCaffrey Belcoo Parent & Toddler Group; Frances Rasdale, Boho Community Bowls Group; Irene Davis, Kesh Evergreens Senior Citizens Club; Dessie Cassidy, Ederney Youth Club and Frank Og Maguire, Knocks Community Association.

FRCN Board Members and staff thanked all those who attended the event including the Guest Speakers and gave a special word of thanks to the Archdale Memorial Hall for hosting what was a very successful event.