Belfast Telegraph

Bonfire children cook up a treat for older neighbours

by Natalie Irvine

Young bonfire builders stepped up to the plate over the Twelfth — by serving a three-course meal to local pensioners in the lead up to the annual Chamberlain Street bonfire night.

On Friday, July 9, almost 50 senior citizens seated themselves at the huge dinner party that was laid on by local children who were organising the local bonfire — having accepted the offer made earlier in the week by the youngsters who carried out an impromptu door step crusade to gather the older dining guests.

Robert Oscroft, Director of the Forward Group, a local community association who were on hand to provide guidance to the young people organising the celebrations, said: “It was the kids themselves that wanted to do this for the local pensioners — it was all their idea.

“They thought it was a good way to build a relationship with the older people who live on the streets where they play and hang about.

“They wanted the older residents to know they weren’t for causing trouble over the Twelfth and maybe in the future, for pensioners could give them a bit more leeway when they played ball in the street — things like that.

“All the young people served the food as well. Everyone really enjoyed it.

“There was a street party the next day — again, it was a very family friendly event.

“The bonfire on the Sunday was lit at midnight and was also a great success too — there was lots of music and food, and again, the whole community turned out.

“It’s important for the kids to know that the Eleventh night is not about burning the pope on the bonfire, and to learn about our heritage without the sectarian elements.

“Our aim was to take the sectarianism out of it and help develop a responsible attitude in the local young people towards organising events like these.

“A lot of them wore the fluorescent bibs and stewarded the bonfire evening — they did brilliantly. They should feel really proud.”

The Forward Group has recently had a change in its management.

As well as securing funding for the Twelfth weekend, the group is currently working on a training and development initiative for those in their late teens and early twenties who live in the local area.

For more information on the Forward Group and its upcoming events and activities, you can contact Robert Oscroft on 07742726755 or email bobbyforwardgroup@hotmail.com

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