Five Trustees (including the Deputy Governor, Deputy Governor Elect and three new members) made a formal visit to Northern Ireland to call on grant recipients and meet dignitaries, working partners and ‘friends’ of the Irish Society. The Programme included:
- Meeting the Principals and pupils of Lisneal College and St Mary’s College to present a grant of £6,000 towards their Star Programme – offering pupils from both Colleges an opportunity to attend Saturday school and enjoy extra-curricular activities;
- Attending North West Regional College to launch a ‘traditional skills’ bursary programme with a grant of £7,000 (seven £1,000 scholarships);
- A walk of parts of the historic City Walls ; followed by a
- Visit to Guildhall to meet Derry City & Strabane District Council officers (Stephen Gillespie, Director of Business & Culture; Kevin O’Connor, Head of Business; and Rosalind Young, Investment Manager) to plan further links and engagement with the City of London – in particular, plans for the new Lord Mayor’s visit to the Province in November; then
- A meeting with a group from Ulster University Magee Campus Graduate Medical School who came to Guildhall to meet the Irish Society for a presentation of the second of four year half-bursaries (£3,000 each) to two students – Emma Neilan and Ellie Ward; and a
- Brief photo call with St Columb’s School of Music (grant recipients of £1,530 per annum for three years [2020-23] supporting three bursaries of £510 each). Directors/teachers Nicky Morton and Louis Fields attended with one of the students;
- A call at Carnroe fishery to meet Irish Society ghillies Dessie Quinn; Hugh McIntyre; and Willie Wilson for an update on the season’s activities;
- Attending the Local Advisory Committee [LAC] meeting via Zoom (with representatives from Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council and Derry City & Strabane District Council) when grants totalling almost £24,000 were awarded to deserving applicants. Eight grants totalling £6,100 from The Clothworkers’ NI Fund were also endorsed by the LAC; then followed by
- A Property Committee meeting (with other Irish Society members joining remotely from London) for an update/review of some of the Irish Society’s more tangible assets; and a …
- Visit to The Designerie & Makers House , Bushmills, where the party met Claire Smyth of Palette Design Art – the small business operating in the creative sector that the Irish Society is sponsoring with a grant of £5,000 in a retail pod for 12 months.
There was also time for a visit to Stormont before returning to London. New Trustees were particularly struck by the nature of various community projects in Northern Ireland – many of which were deemed “way ahead of our local [London] initiatives and commitment to community spirit. It was a delight to meet so many interesting and purposeful people” and receive such a warm welcome from the organisations we visited.