Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Mencap group closes after 50 years

Members of the Lisburn and District Mencap Society with Lisburn Mayor Councillor Jantes Tinsley and Alderman Paul Porter at a recent reception to mark the closing of the Society.

AFTER nearly 50 years of active fundraising and campaigning Lisburn and District Mencap Society will close its books on Wednesday February 13.

The organisation was originally Lisburn Parents' Group and was formed to help bring the learning disabled out of the dark ages and into their rightful place in society.

The founder members were Annabel Poots MBE and her late husband Mr Cairnduff, Mrs Laura Kane and her late husband David, the late Mr and Mrs McMaster, the late Mrs McIlroy, and the late Mr and Mrs McGaughey.

They campaigned for some day care services which began as a few hours a week in 'The Raggedy Bap' in Chapel Hill, a small room with bare floors and no facilities or activities, and they had to fundraise for even the basic items like toys.

Over the years many hours were spent fundraising for equipment and in talks with the relevant authorities for better facilities, and eventually Wallace Avenue Day Care Centre was purpose-built to provide places for 50 adults, while Parkview School was opened for children under the care of the Health Authority. In later years the group affiliated to Mencap NI and became known as Lisburn and District Mencap Society.

Other successes for the group include increasing the school leaving age to 19 and campaigning for the complete renovation and extension of LARC.

Before winding up the group, the members expressed their thanks to everyone who has supported them over the years, including Lisburn .City Council. Jacqueline Wood, Chairperson of the group, also paid tribute to Alderman Paul Porter and Vice Chair Anne Blake.

"Paul Porter has given unstintingly of his time since the very clay he was first elected, she said.

"1 also pay tribute to our Vice-chair Anne Blake who has been the driving force within our Society in recent years, bringing her expertise and experience when it was most needed. She has gone on to Chair Lisburn Carers' Forum for Learning Disability and, with her secretary Valerie Martin, has been influential in setting up and running of. Lisburn Advocacy Group which has helped endless people with learning disabilities and their

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