Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to local farmer David Dunlop

DAVID Dunlop, 35, a local farmer, is the chairman of the Hillsborough Oyster Festival Committee. He also runs Dunhill cottage Bed & Breakfast which adjoins the family farm in Carnreagh.

David, who recently got married to Gillian, is looking forward to the Oyster festival which is now in its 17th year. Hillsborough village will play host once again to a fun weekend on Thursday 3rd - Sunday 6th September organised by a committee of volunteers from the local community. Through the committee's efforts lots of people and local businesses within the community benefit from the many visitors it attracts.

I have to get up around 6.30am to start the breakfasts at the B&B. Once these are finished I make up some bedrooms and tidy before going out onto the farm, which is nearby, and checking the cattle to make sure everything is ok.

I spend my time working on the farm and managing the B&B so I keep my phone handy in case I'm needed. Guests might need to check in or out and I also might have to do airport runs. I take bookings and respond to inquiries people have made about staying with us. All of this keeps me busy throughout the day.

Most of my work as Chairman of the Oyster Festival Committee is done during the evenings when I meet with the other members to discuss the festival. The planning started way back in January and we have been busy organising sponsors and the different events which will be taking place. The festival theme this year is 'Celebrating 400 Years of Lisburn'. We have organised a Fashion Show on the Thursday evening, a Masquerade Ball on the Friday, on the Saturday there will be street entertainment, stalls and kids fancy dress. The popular Soap Box Derby will transform Main Street on the Saturday with The World Oyster Eating record challenge bringing the event to a peak.

The Oyster eating competition also happens on the Saturday and on the Sunday The Super Dream Car' event will take place. So there's lots for people to come and enjoy.

This year our chosen charity is Struggle Against Muscular Dystrophy (S.A.M) a zero cost charity run by volunteers and based in Northern Ireland. The charity will be collecting at each of the organised events. The committee has been working very closely with S.A.M and are delighted to have them on board with us.

It is my job as Chairman to make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible. Basically Iam responsible for the general running along with the committee. I sort out the paper work involved, chair meetings, and Seal with PR issues. I'm always pushing for

deadlines to be met. I will also deal with media inquiries and am responsible for organising sponsors and managing the budget but I couldn't do it without the support of the other members. It really is about team work.

Recently I have been busy finalising arrangements. I check that all the health and safety regulations are adhered to and make sure the traders have applied for permits to operate at the festival.

For example if a burger van wants to sell food I need to ensure they have their health and safety certificates. Lots of local traders bring their fresh produce to the festival to sell at the stands and these are always in high demand.

Ulster Star