Re-Opening of Finnard Orange Hall
04 August 2011
Over one hundred people gathered at Finnard Orange Hall on Saturday to celebrate the re-opening after an extensive programme of refurbishment.
Finnard Rural Development Association (FRDA) received financial assistance through the Maximising Community Space Crossing Borders Programme, which is managed by the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council (RDC) and funded by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI). The programme is designed to increase the capacity of groups managing community halls, encourage wider usage of existing facilities and foster good relations.
William Mitchell, FRDA Chairperson welcomed everyone to witness the re-opening of the hall that is 101 years old. He gave an overview of what the group have been involved in since it was formed in 2007 and their participation on this programme.
Strand One, involved development support training and thirteen members completed an accredited course. This training involved eight separate sessions looking at a wide range of topics, aimed at assisting the group to manage their hall effectively.
In September 2010, the group received almost £50,000 from the IFI and £2,900 from Newry and Mourne District Council, to build an extension to accommodate a new entrance lobby, toilets, kitchen, store and the provision of disabled access.
Seana Quinn, Programme Officer, RDC who has worked with the group stated ‘the group engaged exceptionally well with all aspects of the programme and hope now they have the opportunity to put their plans into action. The changes have been tremendous and I hope these improvements will help to maximise the use of the hall for years to come’. She presented certificates to all participants who completed the training.
William thanked the IFI, RDC and Newry and Mourne District Council for their support and assistance. Cllrs Moffet and Taylor congratulated the group on the completion of the project and wished them every success in all future activities. David Lowry from Altnaveigh House commended the group on all their achievements to date. Next in the spotlight was Karen McKevitt (MLA) followed by John McCallister (MLA) who both praised the group for all that they have accomplished to date. Brian Groves presented the group with a gift on behalf of Drumadonald Rural Development Association. Drew Nelson highlighted the importance of Orange Halls as meeting spaces for community groups and identified the voluntary commitment that the members of FRDA have put in to see such a project to fruition.
The crowd were entertained to a selection of highland dances from the young dancers who attend classes in the hall, in addition to a selection of tunes from Banbridge Orchestra Accordian Band before tea and refreshments were served. William presented Seana with a bouquet of flowers for her help with the project, and a plaque was presented to the group acknowledging their participation on the programme.