The sound of Christmas will ring across Ballymena, thanks to a festive album which has been produced by local community groups.
‘Have Yourself a Ballymena Christmas’ features a range of local singers giving their spin on popular, seasonal songs, with the goal of bringing Christmas cheer for all to hear to homes right across the town.
From Santa Baby and Last Christmas, to the Snowman and Oh Holy Night, there is a festive favourite for everyone to enjoy. The album even features a community collaboration as they take on Band Aid’s Do they know it’s Christmas? as the closing track.
The project is a collaboration is between Ballykeel 2 & District Community Association, Ahoghill Yew Tree Community Group, Broughshane Community Association, Cullybackey Village Community group, DMAC3 and Doury Road Development Group, Ballymena South Community Cluster, with the support of Radius Housing.
It was recorded at The Music Rooms, Ballymena, and now will be distributed to homes around Ballymena and beyond for free by the group.
Have Yourself a Ballymena Christmas is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.
Radius currently has 11 shared housing developments across Northern Ireland, and is currently developing a new £26m, 135 home project at the former St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena.
All developments are supported by Good Relations Plans, including ‘Bridging’ events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which include Health and Wellbeing, Education and Training.
Speaking at the launch, Megan McGlinchey from Radius Housing said:
“Everyone loves a Christmas song. They bring so much cheer as you singalong at home, when socialising or even when just driving in your car. This album brings a Ballymena feel to some of the very best festive songs. Radius Housing is delighted to be able to work with so many wonderful community groups to produce this album, and bring Christmas cheer for all to hear.”
Among the singers is Amy Ford, who said:
"As a member of the community, I personally think this project is a brilliant idea to bring everyone together from all backgrounds. It has really opened my eyes to the level of talent and commitment within our community that may of been missed in the past. It has been a pleasure taking part and I have greatly enjoyed every moment of it.”
Donna Mooney from Ballykeel 2 & District Community Association said:
“When I was asked to lead on this project on behalf of Ballykeel 2 & District Community Association, I was a bit overwhelmed. Working along professions such as Rodney Beggs, from the Music Rooms and Gerry McLean from Mill Hollow Studio has made a daunting task so easy and simple and really enjoyable. I have been so excited and amazed at the musical talent that is within Ballymena that has never been heard – until now!”
Her colleague, James Weir, added:
“This project emerged from another scheme that was held in Ballykeel 2 last year where we held a project funded by PCSP in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough council, where we held a series of musical workshops for the kids. We found that both the parents and children participated and really enjoyed themselves.
"At the beginning of November, I felt that it would be a great idea to see if funding was available so we could record a Christmas CD. Knowing that Ballykeel wasn't the only estate feeling lossover the past few years, that it was Ballymena wide, I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring community groups from all over Ballymena and the surrounding area to come together and work on this project.”