Big thank you from

Mary Magee talks to Brian Burns

Brian BurnsBRIAN Burns (40), has been working as Community Development Officer with Crumlin Together for two and a half years.

The father-of-two was born in Newry but raised in Belfast before moving to Crumlin where he has been living for the past ten years.

Brian first took an interest in Community Development work through his contacts as a professional musician. He currently plays guitar in the Paul Dean Band.

In the mid 1990s Brian returned to adult education and studied Politics and History at Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education and then studied for a degree in Ethno Musicology at Queens.

He was Community Music Development co-ordinator with Antrim Borough Council for two years, a post unique in the UK at that time.

Based at Clotworthy House he co-ordinated a programme to help train people and make music an important and fun aspect of life for local communities regardless of age, gender, race and religion. This was a unique opportunity to target those most disaffected from accessing what Brian calls everybody's 'birth right,' access to play and enjoy music. It was also a great introduction to community work in general.

Brian has two children Ryan (12) and Martin (14) and a partner Alice McDonald.

I get up around 7 30am, get showered, changed and have breakfast with the children before I send them off to Crumlin High School.

Evening meetings determine what time I start work. On a normal day l start at 9am, but if I have been working late it might be a little later, about 10am.

A `normal' day starts with some general office and administration tasks such as taking and making phone calls and checking e-mails.

Some of my work involves making contact with other community groups and activities in the Antrim area so I'm in contact with groups from Randalstown or Toome.

Crumlin Together is very busy at the moment as we are involved with the Development Scheme which will mean a purpose built building near the community centre.

We are currently establishing a company with a Board of Directors. There are four key people at the moment sitting on the board which includes two local influential business people. Further to this I work closely with all locally elected councillors on Antrim

Borough Council officers as well as International Fund for Ireland and Department of Social Development personnel to ensure the scheme progresses steadily.

We also work at a grass roots level helping organise events for senior citizens and young people.

This week the BBC is bringing along the Big Yellow Bus which is a digital and audio project for teenagers. Children from the local high school are taking part. It will be a training day to show them visual photography and video recording techniques. Relationships are very good with most of the statutory agencies but Antrim Borough Council and its elected members have always gone that extra mile in recent times to support the work that goes on in Crumlin. The community resource team at Antrim have been especially helpful. Everyone is working hard to improve the physical and social infrastructure of Crumlin, which is becoming one of Europe's fastest growing and most attractive villages.

That all means plenty to do and l have helped organise a number of Basic English classes, Youth activities and Study Tours. I have also run summer schemes, helped with an Anti Asbestos campaign and helped to set up the Crumlin Music School, which is a labour of love.

It is rewarding as you know you are contributing toward making Crumlin village a peaceful, safer, clean and happy place to live and raise families - that's what the job's about.

I work alongside a part-time administrator, Patricia Myers, whose role is vital and who helps with the day to day running of the office. We have an open door policy so lunch is some-times missed. If I'm lucky I have a sandwich at my desk.

My day normally ends around 5pm but if I have an evening meeting it could go onto 10pm. When I go home I normally cook dinner and leave the dishes for the boys to do.

For the rest of the evening l listen to music or watch television. Sometimes l play the guitar. By and large lam getting to the stage of my life where watching television and sitting in with a DVD is the norm for me. During the weekends I play in The Paul Dean Band. It's a kind of rock band and we play anything from the Beatles to the Arctic Monkeys.

I'm usually in bed around midnight. For more information about Crumlin Together, which is based at 77 Main Street, ring 94-470110.

Ulster Star