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A little bit of history as festival for elderly hosts graveyard tour

By Noel McAdam

Published 17/09/2016

A Northern Ireland festival for older people will include a guided tour of a cemetery
A Northern Ireland festival for older people will include a guided tour of a cemetery

A Northern Ireland festival for older people will include a guided tour of a cemetery.

Belfast City Council's Positive Ageing month also features a Be Prepared For Winter event.

Those behind the festival deny such activities could give it a downbeat feel.

There are more than 150 events during the month-long festival that began this week and runs until October 6, among them tea dances, film screenings, disco dancing, chocolate making, bike-riding tutorials and computer classes.

And Silver Sunday on October 2 includes a special opening of Friar's Bush Graveyard in Stranmillis, thought to be Belfast's oldest Christian burial ground and said to contain the mass graves of cholera victims. Despite the cemetery event, Age NI chief executive Linda Robinson said positivity was the key to helping elderly people enjoy life.

"Older people are a diverse group of people with their own opinions, experiences and interests," she said.

"Keeping a positive attitude about ageing, participating fully in life as we age, and having our views respected, including our wishes as we plan for and approach the end of our life, helps us to remain in control.

"We feel good about ourselves and enjoy a long and fuller later life."

Anne Watson, chair of lobbying group Age Sector Platform, said she was sure the festival will be a great success - especially with the annual Pensioners Parliament in Northern Ireland due to sit in Belfast next month.

"Unfortunately, the older generation is often stereotyped as frail and vulnerable or branded as wealthy and selfish, with many failing to recognise the important contribution older people make through caring, volunteering and grandparental responsibilities."

Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston said: "We all look forward to being as mentally and physically active as possible as we get older. And one of the best ways to do that is to keep involved in what is going on around you."

Now in its second year, the festival has been organised by the council in partnership with organisations including the Belfast Area Partnership boards and Engage With Age.

For details of all the events, check out www.belfastcity.gov.uk/positiveageingmonth.

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