Lifestyle and environment are connected ideas and one of the key benefits of improving the physical environment is the promotion of healthier living. Promoting and maintaining the means of improving the environment and lifestyles of the people of Markethill and District is one of the key aims of Markethill District Enterprises (MDE). To that end, we facilitate the many exciting groups and activities in our area. Shirley Wells describes the range of community activities in her 2003 Annual Public General Meeting report:
"I took up my position with M.D.E. in July 2002 and one of my first tasks was to help organise and run an event at the Old Courthouse to mark the Golden Jubilee. The theme was 1950's and the idea was to cater for all age groups on the same day. Funding received from the Lottery made it possible for us to invite the planetarium dome, fairground rides, and a bouncy castle, to have face painters and two disco's in a marquee and a barbeque lasting all day and again in the evening. The function room upstairs was the venue for a night of criac, with a fashion show of 1920's fashions and a story teller. The cells in the basement provided the ideal setting for a jubilee exhibition of memobrillia and artefacts, and a presentation of moving images was delivered by The Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission's Digital Film Archive. In addition to this, a special bus trip which included a light meal was arranged to Hillsborough Castle for anyone born in the 1929's. M.D.E. marked the Golden Jubilee with our Chairman Mr Johnston planting three crab apple trees in the grounds of the Old Courthouse.
"M.D.E. is recognised as a well structured organisation which provides many community facilities and offers support to voluntary groups in the community and I have been making myself familiar with the many groups, assisting the stronger groups where and however possible and identifying how to address gaps experienced by the weaker groups.
"One of the groups I have been working closely with is the Gardening Club who are an enthuastic hard working group and although few in numbers during the summer they along with Markethill Together planted out and maintained flower boxes throughout the town. The Gardening Club meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 8.00pm in the Old Courthouse.
"The Historical Society meet on the last Thursday of the month at 8.00pm and are one of our stronger groups. They have good membership a library and regular monthly meetings take place in the Old Courthouse where invited speakers give a variety of presentations some of which are on local topics. Earlier this year funding was received from the Awards for All which makes them very self sufficient and I support them mainly in an administrative role, designing promotional material, updating the members about forthcoming events, and ensuring that they receive as much media cover as possible.
"For anyone wanting to shed a few unwanted pounds or improve their fitness I worked on the idea of a new Bums and Tums class to take place Monday nights from 8.00pm - 9.00pm. Promotion for this class took the format of posters and flyers in local businesses, newspaper and radio coverage the response rate has to date been exceptionally good.
"Another group I would like to become actively involved with is the Chamber of Commerce and if possible encourage new businesses of the town to become actively involved. They have been responsible for sterling work in and around the town and I commend all their hard work.
"The old time with a hint of modern Dancing Lessons continue to run each Wednesday evening from 9.00pm - 10.30pm. They prove to be a very popular and social way to spend an evening and we have booked the instructors right through until the summer. It is my intention with representatives from the group to apply for funding in the immediate future I will continue to support them in whatever way I can, as is the case with all the groups, I am here, please make use of me.
"The Glenanne, Loughgilly, Mountnorris, Mossfield, and Clady groups are extremely strong and are to be congratulated on their continued developments.
"The Information Communication Technology suite within the Old Courthouse is fully operational with seven computers and internet access. Before Christmas we were able to offer two IT for the Terrified classes one in the morning and the other in the evening both of which were a great success and I am in the process of negotiating with Armagh College a ten week OCR certificate as a follow up course for these students. In September I with Armagh College introduced an ECDL course on Monday nights this was the first time the Old Courthouse had offered this advanced computer qualification response has been positive and it is my intention to offer it again in the autumn. Through the New Opportunities Fund I with three others from the area are training in ICT so we will be qualified to deliver ICT courses in our local community venue. This funding has also enabled M.D.E. to secure two new computers and a printer which I anticipate will be installed in the IT suite in the very near future.
"Another project that I am involved in is the Educational Guidance Service for Adults programme. This is a thirty week programme offered in essential skills through ICT and personal development. This course can be offered in the morning or in the evening depending on the demand and will run in the local community. There will be no charge for this course and it will be tailored to the needs of the group. Advertising for this course will begin in February and commence as soon as possible .
"Markethill Art Group recently formed themselves into an official group with a constitution. In July of last year the group put on an exhibition at the old Courthouse and the current group of amateur artists are working towards another exhibition this year. The art class meet every Thursday night from 7.30pm - 10.00pm in the old Courthouse classes last for 12 weeks with a new class beginning on Thursday 23rd January 2003. The group need new recruits - you do not need to have painted before all you need is an interest in learning, a variety of mediums are covered e.g. watercolours, pastels, and acrylics so if you are interested come along in Thursday night.
"Gosford Friendship Club is a group for the over 50's they meet every Wednesday afternoon in the Social Centre under the leadership of Jean Clarke. This is a strong group with a good membership who are presently taking part in a variety of crafts, tapestry, crocheting, decoupage and cross stitch, and where new members are always welcome.
"One group that I have not yet mentioned is the Women's Group who unfortunately have not reformed this year. I would therefore like to appeal to all women of any age if you have any thoughts on joining or forming a group to contact me. Groups are fun and exciting so much can be gained through sharing with others. Activities could include interior design, flower arranging, cookery demonstrations, no bake tray bakes, nail artistry, beauty therapy,aromatherapy, reflexology, yoga, walking, patchwork/quilting, and photography.
"I myself have benefited from others sharing their knowledge and experiences with me all of which has given me a valuable insight into the sourcing and completing funding applications and life in the community and in conclusion I would like to end my report by thanking all those I have met and worked with you have made me feel very welcome."
Other groups include the following:
In the accompanying recording, Willie Johnston talks about the work of Markethill District Enterprises Ltd. in aiding community groups and in improving community facilities by attracting European funding to the area.
Use the audio controller to listen to this talk, given in 2003.