Housing Executive Award For Moneydarragh Hub

Moneydarragh Hub scoops prestigious Housing Executive award

Moneydarragh Hub scoops prestigious Housing Executive award

Moneydarragh Community Hub in south Down has scooped the Community Spirit award for the south region – and received a £1,000 prize – in the Housing Executive’s annual Rural Community Awards.

The award is for individuals and groups who are making a difference in rural areas and it showcases the wide range of activities they are involved in to improve the quality of life and create cleaner, safer and more vibrant places to live. 

The awards also recognise outstanding volunteering work being carried out at grassroots level in rural areas across Northern Ireland, helping to boost civic pride among residents.  

Hugh Cox, spokesman for the Moneydarragh group, said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious award. Many volunteers have come together to help with various projects and we are very proud of what we have achieved over the last few years.”

Niall Fitzpatrick (left) and Eoin McKinney (right), from the Housing Executive, get a tour of the community gardens in Moneydarragh.

Moneydarragh Community Hub was set up and based in the former local primary school after it closed in 2018.

A hedge school in the 1770s, it had served as the focal point and social hub for the community of Longstone, Valley Road, Ballyvea and surrounding areas for generations.

Residents successfully campaigned to acquire the premises so that it could continue to be used by local people.

Hugh added: “A comprehensive survey of community needs was carried out in 2018 involving visits to residents, open meetings and a survey questionnaire of 180 local households.

“In response to positive feedback, our first major project was to clear and restore a 500m overgrown and impassable section of the old School Lane, leading from the Valley Road housing estates, to enable local people to walk safely to the Hub, avoiding the main road.

Ruairí Jordan, Claire Mooney and Pat Mooney from Moneydarragh Community Hub are already out and about planting and preparing for the next crop in their communal garden.

“Up to 25 volunteers worked to clear undergrowth and debris from the lane and plant herbs, fruit bushes and wildflowers.

“A significant number of young and older people now use the lane, which encourages exercise and enables easy access to the Hub facilities and events and to Longstone Road shop and football pitch.

“The Hub now provides a range of facilities previously only available in larger towns such as gardening, crafts, music, set dancing, youth and children’s activities and training. We also have space for local social enterprises.

“The Hub also has social space for people to come and relax in the afternoon, helping to reduce rural isolation.”

Moneydarragh Community Hub members Claire Mooney (Hub Facilitator) and Ruairí Jordan (Marketing Officer) pick up their award for Community Spirit from the Chair of the Housing Executive Nicole Lappin at the Rural Community Awards ceremony recently. The Housing Executive awards recognise the outstanding volunteering work being carried out at grassroots level in rural areas across Northern Ireland.

Work was carried out in 2021 to bring the former school play area into use again with volunteers weeding, mowing and reseeding the land. 

Early last year, volunteers also worked on a new community garden, helping to plant borders around the play areas with over 250 pollinator plants, herbs, native trees and fruit bushes.

A new garden area was created including a polytunnel, raised beds and a heritage apple and soft fruit orchard.

“Our garden is well used by local people who have planted tomatoes, peppers, beetroot and other vegetables,” Hugh added.

“We have a regular Saturday morning gardening class teaching residents how to grow, maintain and maximise use of their own gardens.

“These projects have all improved community involvement and will continue to provide benefits for the future.”

Liam Gunn, the Housing Executive’s South Down area manager, congratulated the team on their achievements. He said: “A big well done to the Hub on their well-deserved award!

“Local people have pulled together and worked hard as volunteers to make this scheme a real success and it is a credit to them,” he said.

“The group has had a hugely positive impact on their community by providing vital services, facilities and important human contact.

“It has also encouraged others to take pride in their environment and given local people an amazing place to go, which is an extremely valuable resource.” 

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Moneydarragh Hub