22nd November 2023: Energia Renewables, part of the wider Energia Group which now owns and operates 16 wind farm sites across the island of Ireland, has awarded the Ballymaconnelly Renewal Group a £3,000 grant through the Long Mountain Wind Farm for a new play area near Rasharkin in County Antrim.
The Renewal Group, which was set up to rebuild a sense of community in the small North Antrim hamlet of Ballymaconnelly, invited all generations – toddlers, teenagers, young adults, parents and grandparents – to attend the opening ceremony.
Chairman, Ian Brownlow, said, “Over the years, we’ve seen our local shops, post office and petrol station close and it was as if the heart was being stripped out of our community. That’s why we set up the Ballymaconnelly Renewal Group and now have a purpose-built Orange Hall, which is open to the whole community with kitchen facilities, a community garden, riverside walkway and this new children’s outdoor play area.
“We make sure we get the most out of every grant we receive and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved over the last decade but we rely on funders like Energia.”
Rosy Billingham, Community Engagement Manager with Energia Renewables, said, “This is a great outdoor area, where parents can relax and chat while the children play and make important friendships that could last a lifetime.
“Seeing all the generations here today, it’s clear that the Ballymaconnelly Renewal Group is achieving what it set out to do and building community cohesion and resilience, which is one of the key UN Sustainable Development Goals supported by our wind farm funds and the wider Energia Group.”
Every other month, the Renewal Group holds community breakfasts for up to 100 people. Their volunteer initiatives seek to bring people together and combat rural isolation, loneliness and depression, particularly in older people living alone.
Dawn Weir, Grants Manager for the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, which administers the Long Mountain Wind Farm fund on behalf of Energia, said: “
“The Energia Long Mountain Wind Farm benefit fund helps local communities to develop and thrive, providing much needed investment, resources and support. This great outdoor play area is a huge boost for the Ballymaconnelly Renewal Group and will enhance the local community garden.
“Tackling climate change is a key element of the Community Foundation’s new strategy and we a proud to partner with Energia on the delivery of this successful community benefit fund.”