Martin Residential Trust celebrates new era and new extension
The Martin Residential Trust, a home in Newtownabbey which cares for people with profound learning difficulties, has officially opened its new extension.
A new day care facility has been added to the Trust - and fittingly - it is called Catherine House after the wife of The Rev Jim Martin, who founded the MRT 23 years ago.
Friends and supporters of the Trust attended the official opening ceremony when Mrs Martin performed the honours.
Nigel McFarlane, the MRT's general manager, explained that the management committee started considering the project several years ago and work got underway last year.
"We used to have an old Portacabin that we used as a day centre but it was getting a bit delapidated. We had money set aside for a project like this and we've been able to build a bigger facility for our residents to use.
"We now have a large day room for different activities along with a multi-sensory room which includes a waterbed featuring acoustics and vibrations that our residents can sense and feel along with various sensory lights and toys. There's also a specialised bathroom area as well.
"Four or five of the residents at a time can be brought into the day room where they can take part in a range of activities and in the evenings it also provides a quiet lounge area where the residents can relax in a nice peaceful atmosphere."
Mr Martin described the new extension as 'magnificent'.
"Our residents need quite a lot of exercise, physiotherapy and motivation as they are all profoundly mentally handicapped so they cannot do much for themselves.
"And, of course, we also have a fantastic paved patio and garden area outside where our staff can also do important, stimulating activities with the residents when the weather permits," he added.
Kathleen Martin (Mrs Martin's real name is Catherine but she is known as Kathleen) said she felt very humbled and proud to have the new extension named in her honour.
"It is a wonderful facility. Although it was built primarily as a day centre, the staff and residents are getting a lot of different uses out of it, including using the kitchen area for baking and cooking."