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Community spirit is alive and well in the Village

Residents of Blackstaff have celebrated the Royal Wedding in the midst of the Village’s annual community week .

The community groups involved were going to cancel the event last week because of the threat of it being “overshadowed” by the wedding.

However they decided to integrate the occasion into their own festivities.

The Broadway street party featured a variety of games with prizes to be won, as well as an ample supply of buns and home baked treats on offer for residents.

Billy Dickson, chairman of Blackstaff Community Development Association, said he was thrilled at how well the event was received.

“The ones in the street who are there, including the ones who are staying to the very end, want to continue doing what they’ve been doing for the last 30 or 40 years, and the Royal Wedding certainly cannot be by-passed,” he said.

He described the party as “fantastic” and “even better than the Queen’s jubilee”. Mr Dickson said the focus of the event was on looking around the area to see who had made a difference in helping to tidy up their gardens and communal spaces.

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He emphasised the importance of making the yearly event more about celebrating culture.

He continued: “It’s not just a bouncy castle affair. We want to encourage people to do one thing to help their community and to keep it going.

“I was taken aback by how so few people can really rally round and make it such a great success.

“I have seen a definite improvement in the condition of some of the gardens in the area and was delighted by the personal contributions made to the cause by its inhabitants. Plans are already under way to make next year’s Blackstaff community week bigger and even better.”

Mr Dickson said he would not be drawn on the exact details of the plans but did confirm it would be built around a main feature with certificates for the best kept homes and gardens signed by the Civic Trust. There is also the possibility of a notable VIP becoming involved.

“We just have to try and enjoy the last few times parties like this are likely to happen because once the bulldozers come it’s the end of an era,” Mr Dickson said.

“It’s so sad but some of the residents who have moved away after a lifetime in the Donegall Road area are not happy in their new homes.

“On Broadway parade some kids have built a hut. They were inside it sweeping up with a brush, keeping it clean while outside the street was a mess. Someone had stuck a card to the hut which said ‘at last the first house built in the redevelopment area’, and that made me laugh.”

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