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Destined for a blooming marvellous Spring Carnival

13 March 2017

Preparations are now well underway for the St Patrick’s Spring Carnival which for 2017 celebrates Youth and Youthfulness – and groups across the city have been working hard to ensure this year’s on street celebration is even more vibrant and animated than usual.

Among them are the members of local disability support charity Destined, whose new home in the former Foyle Valley Railway station is literally blossoming as they prepare for next week’s parade.

The group will take to the streets alongside over 600 other participants from community groups, arts groups and local schools for an amazing multi-cultural display of energy and colour.

Project manager with the group, which aims to empower local people with learning disabilities, Terry McDevitt, has been working with the members during a series of workshops in preparation for the event, which draws thousands of visitors to the city for a celebration which stretches this year right through the weekend.

“We have incorporated the workshops into our ongoing arts programme which our members attend every Thursday evening, so they have been working really hard on making props,” he explained. “The general theme is Forever Young, so Destined have been tasked with creating some beautiful blooms for the parade, and the place is coming down with daffodils and butterflies.

“The group already meet every Thursday to do pottery, so this is another opportunity for them to learn new arts and crafts skills and they’ve really been enjoying it. They will also be making their own costumes which is something a bit different as well.”

Destined have been participating in both the St Patrick’s and Halloween parades - which are run by Strabane District Council - for a number of years and Terry said the events have now become a popular part of the group’s annual programme. “We keep coming back because everyone enjoys it so much, and it’s a great opportunity for us to raise the profile of the group and what we do. I think that what’s particularly good for us is that it brings different ages together so the members taking part this year are aged between 18 and 75. Everyone works together to help each other out, and the younger members are really supportive of the older members.”

The group have plenty of space to get creative having taken on the lease at the former Foyle Valley Railway building, and are making the most of the new facility.

“We’ve been here for six months now,” Terry explains. “We’re still getting used to our new surroundings and we’re finding new ways to use the space. Work is currently underway on a two tier extension and we hope to be able to offer a number services out of the building for our members to use. It’s a great location as we have lots of parking, and we are now right on the interface which means we are open and accessible to everyone.

“There is so much potential for the building and people are becoming more aware that we’re based here now. For example at Christmas we had over 1,500 people attend our Santa’s Grotto which was fantastic, and we find that we can invite more people into the centre, such as pupils from the mainstream schools.

“We’re really looking forward to next week, and everyone has been working so hard on their props for the parade. It’s great that everyone has the chance to make their own mark on the event and add their own little creative touches to their costumes. I think that’s what’s so special about the Carnival – everyone here has ownership of it and can say they’ve played their part in making it happen.”

Destined will be showing off their artistic skills on Friday, March 17th at 2pm so don’t forget to give them a warm welcome as they make their way along the St Patrick’s Parade route through the city centre, starting at the Council carpark on Queen’s Quay.
Some of the other highlights of this year’s Spring Carnival programme include the Legenderry Food Festival, which will be taking over the Guildhall Square from March 17-19, featuring a whole host of foodie delights. Join TV favourite Brian Turner of Ready Steady Cook fame as he rattles those pots and pans in the marquee kitchen, joined by the very finest local culinary talent led by Brian McDermott and Jenny Bristow.

Saturday March 18th sees the return of the popular family friendly Ubuntu global celebration, when cultures come together to share music, food and dance in a riot of colour. Events will take place throughout the city centre, at locations in the Craft Village, Waterloo Place and Bishop’s Street.

For a full programme of all the Spring Carnival events please go to www.derrystrabane.com/SpringCarnival