Belfast Telegraph

DJ Joe sure to be farm favourite at first NI Learning Disability Pride Day

By Victoria Leonard

A Carrick DJ with a learning disability is set to shatter stereotypes by spinning the decks in front of a crowd of thousands at Northern Ireland's first Learning Disability Pride Day.

Joe Hoey (55), a resident of Kilcreggan Homes Ltd supported housing, will fly the flag for learning disabilities during his set on Saturday, May 27.

The event is the brainchild of Thomas Haighton from Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Club, who was inspired by Disability Pride Day to celebrate the contribution to society of those with learning disabilities.

Thousands are expected to converge on the seaside town for a march led by people with learning disabilities, their carers and support charities. This will be followed by a day packed with entertainment and information.

Joe, who works on the neighbouring Kilcreggan Urban Farm, hopes to inspire others with learning disabilities.

"I like to play a mixture of country music, as well as music from the 1970s, 80s and 90s and dance music," said Kylie Minogue superfan Joe.

"I like to see people having a good time and dancing, and I like to create a good atmosphere.

"DJing boosts my confidence and helps me meet other people."

Joe admits he is "nervous" about his starring role, but is determined to do the town proud.

"I even had a dream about being on stage and I have been joking with people, asking if they would like their autographs now," he continued.

"I hope that when people with learning difficulties see me on the stage they will be inspired, they will know they don't have to be a spectator, they can be the star of the show."

Joe will be aided by Pauline Brady, assistant manager of Kilcreggan Homes Ltd.

The facility provides supported housing to 20 adults with learning disabilities, and further services for around 136 adults with learning disabilities.

These include supported employment opportunities at Kilcreggan Urban Farm, where adults with learning disabilities can help care for livestock, work in the cafe, or grow plants to sell to the community. "Joe used to go to the Radio One roadshow in Carrick and he always said he would love to be on a big stage, so when we heard they were looking for someone to perform in front of Carrick Castle we immediately thought: 'Joe Hoey,'" laughed Pauline.

"We will have Pete Snodden from Cool FM as compere, and Joe will do a 30-minute set, but he could end up performing for longer if he gets the crowd going wild!"

Pauline described the idea for the celebration as "refreshing."

"It will show that there are no limits to what people with learning disabilities can do if we are prepared to listen to them," she concluded.

Belfast Telegraph


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