Nearly £13,000 raised for outgoing Mayor’s Charities

Cheque presentation with from left, Maria Kinney
(Camphill Communities), Glenn Aiken (Camphill
Communities), Cathy Cree (North Down YMCA),
David Seaton (Mark Pollock Trust), Barbara
Carson (Mark Pollock Trust, Mark Pollock's Mum),
Councillor Andrew Muir and Stuart Buchanan
(North Down YMCA)
I presented a large cheque on Monday 23 June 2014 for nearly £13,000 to my chosen charities when Mayor of North Down - Camphill Communities, North Down YMCA and the Mark Pollock Trust.

A range of events were organised over my Mayoral year in conjunction with the charities and Council staff including two Business Breakfast events, Antiques Valuation Fair, Golf Day at Bangor Golf Club sponsored by Barclays Bank, St Patrick's Day Musical Celebration, Charity Bag Pack, Raffle at Bangor Business Awards, Football Tournament and a Table Quiz.

Over my year as Mayor I sought to provide positive leadership with a focus on inclusivity, sport & creativity. My decision to support Camphill, YMCA and the Mark Pollock Trust reflected this desire with each organisation focused upon enabling every individual to reach their full potential regardless of age, disability, ethnicity or background.

Working as One we managed to raise the profile of each organisation whilst also raising funds to enable Camphill, YMCA and the Mark Pollock Trust to continue delivering their valuable services. Many thanks to everyone who donated funds and helped make such a successful outcome possible. I am truly grateful and confident that funds raised will help make a positive difference, delivering an enduring positive legacy from my year as Mayor

Three Charities to benefit from the sums raised will each receive over £4,300.

Commenting on sum raised Glenn Aiken from Camphill Communities stated "Camphill Communities NI have enjoyed the experience of working with the Mayor, particularly, when he was so hands-on, making mince pies in our café in Holywood. Also, our unique model of care for people with learning disabilities fitted well with his aim that each individual should be encouraged to reach their full potential. Many thanks to the Mayor from all at Camphill we thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated your support."

North Down YMCA has operating since 1979, is based in Queen's Parade, Bangor and as a faith-based voluntary organisation seeks to put the Christian faith into practice by empowering children, young people, families and communities to flourish in mind, body and spirit.  A spokesperson stated "Over the past year their staff and volunteers have supported over 800 individuals of all ages across North Down through their Youth Development, Healthy Living and Community Engagement programmes. Funds raised will help continue this vital work."

Remarking on the monies collected, Piers White from Mark Pollock Trust commented "At The Mark Pollock Trust we believe that the cure for spinal cord injuries simply requires enough of the right people having the will to make it happen. It is our mission to find and connect those people worldwide to fast-track a cure for paralysis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mayor for choosing Mark Pollock Trust as one of his Charities of the Year. The money raised will help enormously with our objectives and help fast-track a cure for this life changing injury."

North Down Schools overlooked again

Cllr Muir with Priory Integrated College Student Council
North Down Alliance Councillor Gavin Walker and I have highlighted our disappointment after schools across the area were again left out of the Education Minister’s latest investment plans.

Despite needing extensive new builds, Priory Integrated College, St Columbanus’ College and others such as Holywood Primary School were labelled not high priority and again missed from the Minister’s latest announcement.

Yet again Priory Integrated College and Holywood Primary School have been left on the backburner – despite in dire need of extensive refurbishment and new school builds.

This has been dragging on for far too long and parents, teachers and pupils deserve action.  The rebuild of Priory approved back in 2008 yet in 2014 still nothing has been achieved and a growing number of pupils are continuing to pass through tired, old buildings while officials get caught up in wider reviews.

Alliance will continue to promote integrated education as an essential part of build a shared and inclusive society for everyone

Councillor Gavin Walker added: “I am extremely disappointed St Columbanus’ College has not been included in the latest round of investment by the Education Department.  It has been waiting a long time for a new school build and absolutely deserves it.

“Whilst part of the Catholic maintained system, St Columbanus’ is a very mixed educator welcoming students from all backgrounds in the area.  The Minister must recognise the excellent work being done by everyone involved in the school to promote an inclusive learning experience for all students.”

Bike Week 2014 wheels into North Down

I am encouraging people to pursue pedal power and enjoy range of events organised in North Down during Bike Week 2014 after originally requesting that Council compile such a range of events for the week which runs from 14 to 22 June 2014. 

Examples across Europe prove that cycling friendly Towns and Cities are healthy and attractive plans to live and visit promoting sustainable travel, active minds and active bodies. I am therefore a keen supporter of cycling and was eager to ensure North Down Council put the wheels in motion and celebrate Bike Week 2014 with a range of diverse events.

Bike Week 2014 in North Down will be delivered by the Council in partnership with Bangor Aurora plus North Down Cycling Club, who I am proud to support as a Honorary Member. Events will include the traditional North Down Coastal Challenge on 15 June, 12 hours of Spin at Queen’s Leisure Complex, Holywood on 16 June, Sprocket Rockets Children’s Cycle Skills event at Bangor Aurora on 17 June.

A novice cycle ride in Ballyholme will also take place on Tuesday 17 June, 5k and 10k gym challenge with Aurora and Queen’s Leisure Complex from 14 – 22 June, Cycling Event in Castle Park on Thursday 19 June, a mass outdoor charity spin class on 21 June at Aurora and opportunity to win a mountain bike via a prize draw. Full details can be found at www.bangoraurora.com and www.northdowncc.com

I look forward to supporting the events as someone firmly committed to a Bicycle friendly Borough with a track record of pro-actively leading and delivering sustainable travel solutions and sporting events together with others in order to build a new inclusive, active and prosperous Borough for everyone.

Mayoral term positive year of progress

Many thanks to everyone who helped make my year as Mayor of North Down such a success. I am confident that one year after becoming Mayor I leave a better and more united Borough following a positive year of progress focussed on building an inclusive, active and prosperous Borough.

Promoting inclusivity daily, I adopted ‘Working as One’ as my theme for the year undertaking over 700 engagements – including work with those in need on Christmas day – raising over £13,000 for charities and promoting courageous civic leadership for everyone.

Among my many highlights was the introduction of the Bangor parkrun, sailing a Catamaran, having the opportunity to meet HRH Princess Anne and Irish President Michael D Higgins, securing Bangor’s very own Culture Night and seeing the first sod cut on the new SERC Performing Arts Centre.

Last year I promised and this year I have delivered a positive legacy for everyone. Bangor Castle Town Hall has been opened up with many groups and individuals welcomed to the historic building, from the Orange Order, Ethnic Minorities, Faith Groups, Youth Organisations, the Royal British Legion, local Army representatives, and many Charities such as Guide Dogs for the Blind and the MS Society.

The role has also allowed me to help build an active Borough representing North Down at the World Police and Fire Games and the official opening of Bangor Aurora. But most of all I’m proud to have established Bangor’s own 5k parkrun, which in a matter of weeks has grown to become the second biggest in Northern Ireland. I’ve led from the front, ran 10k races, participated in Open Water Swims, sailed on a catamaran and volunteered for our local food bank, St Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army.

Working for everyone across North Down led me on many new paths not yet travelled by previous Mayors and I’m proud to have been the first to speak at St Paul’s Gaelic Athletic Club Awards in Bangor and later attended a match in Holywood. I also forged a productive working relationship with Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir promoting local businesses to a global audience. Engaging fully on social media I also promoted North Down beyond the borough, highlighting North Down as a great place to live, visit, work or invest.

I also want to thank everyone who has helped me complete a successful year, including my Mum who often acted as Mayoress and the many people who supported my charities – North Down YMCA, Camphill Communities and Mark Pollock Trust.  Together we raised an unbelievable £13,000 for three fantastic groups that provide hope and inspiration to many.

But the hard work doesn’t stop now – there is still lots to be done and I’m looking forward to work getting underway on the new North Down and Ards Council.  This is a clear opportunity for a new beginning to work together and deliver better services for citizens and businesses across the area.

Throughout my year as Mayor I’ve promoted my vision of what a shared and inclusive society for everyone can look like. I am delighted to have achieved such a positive progress, transforming the role and providing inspiration to many. I look forward to the time ahead focused on a number of new projects which I hope to deliver with the same passion and energy that I possessed when I started one year ago.

Mayor welcomes local people from across the world to Town Hall

Mayor Muir with different people from
different countries along with
guest Mary Lappin 
I welcomed local people from across the world to Bangor Castle Town Hall on Monday 12 May 2014.

I was proud to extend the invitation and welcome local people from Poland, Russia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia & Hong Kong to our Town Hall as Mayor. I am delighted they have chosen North Down to be their home and stand with them as valued citizens of our Borough. 

I greatly appreciated each persons story about why they chose to live here and feel extremely grateful to have so many different people from different backgrounds living in our diverse Borough. I stand with them in the face of recent attacks and against hate and intolerance. Northern Ireland is changing and different people with different backgrounds help make us stronger, prosperous and a better place to live.

Mayor sails on catamaran to promote World Championships

As F18 Catamaran World Championships approach I am keen to help build awareness of the sport and the thrilling experience to be enjoyed. After a gentle start I was amazed to see how fast the boat can sail and found the experience truly exhilarating. Many thanks to all at Ballyholme Yacht Club who helped make my Catamaran experience possible and their ongoing commitment which helps make North Down Northern Ireland’s premier Maritime Destination.

Mayoral reception for Bangor Drama Club

I held a reception for Bangor Drama Club on Thursday 29 May 2014. During the formal reception in the Mayor’s Parlour ideas were exchanged on the future for Bangor Town Centre and positive role the club will hopefully play. 

The event ended with Mayor Muir committing to attend next performance on Friday 27 June 2014 of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder.

Mayoral welcome for Cats Protection League

Mayor Muir with Cats Protection
League representatives
I welcomed Cats Protection League staff and volunteers to Bangor Castle Town Hall on Thursday 22 May 2014.

I was delighted to pledge my support for the Cats Protection League and animal welfare by welcoming representatives to the Town Hall and signing up as a Cats Protection League supporter.

Mayoral support for MS Week

I provided support for MS Week by hosting local MS Society volunteers, staff and users at Bangor Castle on Wednesday 30 April 2014.

As someone who is close friends with someone who has MS and volunteers for the MS Society I am acutely aware of the key issues faced and the need for people to support the “Treat me Right” campaign. By providing appropriate support and access arrangements plus access to necessary drugs and treatment we can help create a society which cherishes and supports those with MS, enabling everyone to realise their full potential. I was therefore delighted to host the MS Society at the Town Hall and pledge my support for the “Treat me Right”. I look forward to supporting the Society and maybe running a 10k to raise some money for them after my Mayoral term ends.

Mayor Muir welcomes Polish Cultural Week Celebrations in Bangor

I supported Polish Cultural Week Celebrations by attending a event in Bangor at the Rabbit Rooms.

I was delighted to welcome Polish Cultural Week in North Down by attending the event in Bangor on Friday 2 May 2014. As Mayor of North Down I am working to create an open, welcome and inclusive Borough which values and accepts everyone, including those from outside Northern Ireland. Foreign Nationals help make us a diverse and prosperous Borough and I am delighted to see such a strong and vibrant Polish Community in North Down.

The event included short movies, a quiz and some Polish Cultural Entertainment.

Mayoral praise for "Mr Holywood"

From left, Holywood Residents Association Treasurer
Alan Andrews, Dennis Ogborn MBE and Holywood
Residents Association Chairperson Raymond Hall.
I joined others in praising Mr Dennis Ogborn who was recently recognised by Holywood Residents Association by the presentation of a commemorative bench at their Annual General Meeting which was held on Thursday 8 May 2014.

Dennis Ogborn has diligently served Holywood for many years serving on Holywood Residents Association from it’s early days until recent times and as a Councillor from 1989 to 2005. 

The level of commitment shown rightly resulted in Dennis receiving an MBE in 1996 and is widely regarded as Mr Holywood for the work undertaken to help Holywood win and retain on many occasions the Best Kept Town Title. I am delighted to see Dennis receive this commemorative bench and hope he enjoys it as he enjoys his retirement.