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Ballywalter celebrates opening of new community centre

Published on:  14 Oct 2006

Ballywalter Village Hall took on a new lease of life today (14th October 2006) when it was officially opened as a new community resource centre following extensive reno­vations undertaken over the past year.

Situated on Main Street, the new multi-purpose centre, which has been developed by Ballywalter Youth and Community Co-operative (BYCC), provides retail and office space, an IT development unit as well as a neutral community space for residents.

The project was funded by the International Fund for Ireland which donated £300,000 through its Community Property Development Scheme (CPDS) and the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council (RDC) with a grant of £149,500 from the Economic Infrastructure measure of the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme

Speaking at the official opening Colin Dempster, Chairman of BYCC, said:  “We are delighted to be able to open the modernised new hall which will be a vital resource centre for economic, community and corporate activity in the heart of Ballywalter. We are very appreciative of the interest and support of the local community as well as to our funders the International Fund for Ireland and the Rural Development Council.

Ballywalter Community Hall is not only an investment in bricks and mortar but a real investment in the current and future generations of Ballywalter. He continued.

Councillor Angus Carson, Mayor of Ards, said: "The Co-operative has shown enormous determination in bringing this project to fruition and I am delighted that we in Ards Borough Council have been able to support the scheme from its conception through to its completion," said Councillor Carson.

"This facility is a credit to the village, is undoubtedly one of the best examples of a community-driven project in Northern Ireland and I look forward to seeing it become the focal point for community life in Ballywalter".

Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: We are delighted to support this vital project which will have a huge positive social and economic impact in this area. The restoration of the Hall will address a real identified need for neutral community and commercial space in Ballywalter and will make a real and lasting impact on the economic prospects of the surrounding area.”

RDC Chair Caroline Breakey also congratulated the group and commented, “As part of the Rural Development Programme, RDC is delighted to have been able to assist Ballywalter Youth and Community Co-operative in the development of this venture. As a Council RDC wants to encourage a flourishing and sustainable rural Northern Ireland and believe that rural communities play a vital and significant role in achieving this. This project, involving the renovation and refurbishment of a well used but previously derelict property to provide lettable units and much needed community space, is an excellent example of a rural community identifying and addressing its needs”.

Ballywalter Youth and Community Co-operative will be holding an open day on Saturday 21st October 2006 from 2pm to 5pm with all residents of Ballywalter and surrounding areas invited to call in and see the new building. Refreshments as well as a bouncy castle for children will be available on the day as part of the festivities.

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