Belfast Telegraph

Personal stories: Bright idea about a new future


LIGHTING designer Gary McElkerney from north Belfast on his first novel about a different kind of Northern Ireland

Gary McElkerney has written a novel – Volunteer – about a Belfast university student leading a team of volunteers as they travel to Ethiopia to build houses for charity.

It is available from No Alibis,, Amazon and iBooks. Gary (30) said: "I always had a story to tell, I guess, and being a natural storyteller I thought I'd try and put that down on paper.

"I volunteered in my early 20s and did take a trip to Ethiopia. What started off as a well received 28-page short story developed into a novel.

"While the novel focuses around Ethiopia, I wanted to write a book that wasn't just another tale from Northern Ireland's troubled past, but a novel that shows a modern, creative and charitable Northern Ireland on the world stage.

"We've had some celebrity interest; Gaz Whelan from the Happy Mondays described Volunteer as his favourite read of last year, and that he was so convinced it would become a movie that he was writing the soundtrack."

The Volunteer book launch, organised by Write Path NI, is being held at The Parlour in Belfast on March 15 from 5pm.

Tickets are available at the event. £5 for the raffle and £1 for the tombola.

Prizes including a hockey stick signed by the Belfast Giants and a stay at Lusty Beg Island. All funds raised are going to Mind Your Mate & Yourself. For more visit

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