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Larne group using bonfire funds to buy aid parcels for residents in need during coronavirus outbreak

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A community group in Larne has decided to use money collected for Eleventh Night bonfires to provide essential aid for old and vulnerable people in the area during the coronavirus crisis. (stock photo - PA)

A community group in Larne has decided to use money collected for Eleventh Night bonfires to provide essential aid for old and vulnerable people in the area during the coronavirus crisis. (stock photo - PA)

A community group in Larne has decided to use money collected for Eleventh Night bonfires to provide essential aid for old and vulnerable people in the area during the coronavirus crisis. (stock photo - PA)

A community group in Larne has decided to use money collected for Eleventh Night bonfires to provide essential aid for old and vulnerable people in the area during the coronavirus crisis.

The Craigyhill Bonfire Committee has decided to channel over £8,000 raised since the last bonfire to go back to residents in food and toiletry donations.

The committee made the decision two weeks ago, and was among the first in Northern Ireland to use bonfire funds to help those in need, with others following suit.

Over 350 packages were delivered to residents in the past week by volunteers for the committee, with remaining supplies donated to the Salvation Army food bank.

The move anticipated the announcement this week that the Twelfth celebrations would be cancelled.

James Beggs, secretary of Craigyhill Community Development Group and the associated bonfire committee, said: "We have been quite shocked with some of the scenes we have witnessed on TV - stores with empty shelves, leaving elderly and vulnerable people stressed and without essential items like bread, milk, toilet rolls, hand soap, tinned foods etc.

"Over the past week our committee went to a cash and carry to buy these items in bulk with the money we have raised, so we can distribute the items to those who really need it in our town."

James thanked Craigyhill Bonfire Committee chairman David Murray, who owns MG Cleaning Services in the town. He said Mr Murray "devoted an awful lot of his time, his own money, plus his vans for getting a lot of the stuff back and forwards. Basically it was down to him that the whole thing came about".

James added: "If someone in the area still needs a parcel they can now contact them to arrange one.

"We just want to thank everyone in the Larne area and we hope everyone stays safe and well."

Belfast Telegraph