|Chris Spurr, Ronnie Spence, Dame Mary Peters, Mayor Ian Stevenson|
Sunday, 24 July 2011
A Great Day in Dervock
Saturday, 23 July - a memorable day for the people of the small, neat County Antrim village of Dervock. Large numbers of them gathered to see Dame Mary Peters, the 1972 Olympic Gold Medallist in the Womens Pentathlon, unveil a blue plaque in memory of the local hero, Kennedy Kane McArthur who had clinched the Gold Medal for the Marathon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.
It was also a good day for the members of the local community association who have been working hard to involve local people and groups to improve the local environment. The results of their efforts were plain to see as the village sparkled in the bright summer sunshine.
The event co-incided with the annual McArthur Half Marathon, which was also started by Dame Mary.
It was great to see so many people there, including the local MLA, Mervyn Storey. Chris Spurr, introducing the Mayor, spoke of the Circle's dependence on local involvement and its thanks for the generous support it received from the Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Mayor of Ballymoney Borough Council welcomed Dame Mary and the assembled throng and said how pleased the Council was that McArthur was being honoured in his home place. Ronnie Spence, who chairs the Heritage Lottery Fund NI Committee, mentioned the the Fund had spent £140 million on a wide range of heritage projects. This included not only big projects like the Ballymena Mueum and the Giant's Causeway Visitors Centre but also small local projects like this one which was about local people and stories that meant so much to the people who live here.
After the unveiling Keith Beattie, Manager of the Ballymoney Museum gave a talk about McArthur and his achievements.
Welcome refreshments were provided by Jennifer and Noel Laverty, proprietors of The Mill Tea Room.
It was all over by 2.30 pm and Chris Spurr and I made our way the Portglenone in search on another elusive blue plaque from the early days of the Circle. Of which more anon.
There is a report of the event, with photographs, on the Circle's website at http://www.ulsterhistory.co.uk/230711.html