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Ab Fab star is guest of honour

Joanna to attend heritage socirty's gala dinner

By Maureen Coleman

Iconic actress Joanna Lumley has thrown her weight behind a fundraising campaign by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.

The star of The New Avengers and Ab Fab will be the guest of honour at the Society's 40th anniversary gala dinner in the Victorian splendour of the Belfast Harbour Office this Saturday night.

Joanna lived in Northern Ireland for several years while her husband Stephen Barlow was artistic director with Opera Northern Ireland.

Because of her links with the province, the Society decided to invite her to their gala evening to address the guests - and were delighted when she agreed.

A spokeswoman said; "We knew Joanna had been very fond of Northern Ireland when she lived here so we wrote her a letter, outlining what we were about and how our priorities now were to save the little buildings in the countryside, the farmhouses, cottages and the streets that make Northern Ireland what it is.

"It must have struck a chord with her because she wrote back and said she'd loved to do it.

"We're thrilled she is coming over and are looking forward to meeting her."

Praising the work of the Society, Joanna said: "The UAHS has been absolutely fabulous in the way it has worked to encourage the preservation and promotion of quality architecture, large and small, prehistoric to modern, in the nine counties of Ulster. I am delighted to have been invited to help celebrate its 40th birthday."

The Society's anniversary is also being acknowledged with a touring exhibition, Defend and Inspire. This highlights its struggles and successes, and emphasises the cultural and economic potential of Ulster's built heritage.

At the recent Stormont launch of the exhibition, Environment Minister Arlene Foster said: "We need an active and engaged group of citizens to ensure that threats faced by the built heritage and the benefits its offers are firmly placed in the public mind."

Belfast Telegraph


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