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Congratulations for highlighting the excellent and innovative work still being done by Prince's Trust

As one who was involved in starting the Prince's Trust in Northern Ireland 40 years ago, it was thrilling to read Allan Preston's report (News, November 2) on the Celebrate Success Awards event held at the Titanic Centre.

The several reports - by Shannon Connor, Ryan Morris and Marieanne Blaney - spoke volumes in terms of the benefits gained by these young people and others from their involvement in the Prince's Trust team programmes.

Northern Ireland was one of six regions around the United Kingdom involved in piloting the programme in 1976.

Prince Charles was very much involved in launching this very innovative programme to encourage young people to be engaged in their local community.

Indeed, the first six awards made in Northern Ireland - the first being a project in Enniskillen - were funded directly from the Prince of Wales' Royal Navy salary.

It is most encouraging to see how this programme has developed - not only throughout the United Kingdom, but in other countries, bringing benefit and encouragement to so many young people from all communities.

Thanks are also due to all involved in the delivery of the programme - council members, staff, team leaders and the many individuals and organisations who provide sponsorship.

It is also pleasing to note Prince Charles' continuing interest in, and support for, this programme, which arose as the result of his listening to a radio programme in his apartment in Buckingham Palace about innovative work with young people undertaken by the Inner London Probation Service.

Also, congratulations to the Belfast Telegraph and the BBC for reporting on the splendid achievements of these young people.

Unfortunately, too often media reports concentrate on the negative and dismal things that occur in our society.



Ban for gymnast who mocked Islam wrong

In a moment of drunken foolishness in private, Louis Smith mocked Muslim prayer practices.

When the video went public he acknowledged his regret for his foolishness by absenting himself from the Olympic celebrations in Manchester and publicly humbling himself by being televised visiting mosques to learn about their faith and apologise to them.

That should have been an end to the saga. By banning him from the sport, the British Gymnastics Association is likely to have created more resentment against the Muslim faith in disproportion to the momentary foolish actions of a young man who has given much to his country over many years to reach the consistently high levels of gymnastic achievement.

A few moments of foolishness should not outweigh years of dedication.


By email

Don't let mobile drive you to distraction

In the last few days alone we've seen three major stories about mobile devices and their potential to distract.

Research out this week - to coincide with our second Accident Awareness Week - puts the issue in stark relief.

Almost half of adults admit they have put themselves in danger because they've been distracted while walking or driving.

Mobile technology is a huge enabler. It allows us to stay in touch, do business on the move, and share the highs and lows of life with those close to us. Technology itself is not the danger.

It's the hold many allow it to have when we should be utterly focused on a different task.

This time next year we hope our annual survey will demonstrate a downward trend in technology-related distraction. Technology is going nowhere, so this relies on everyone changing their relationship with their mobile phone.

If protecting our own safety isn't enough, the stories we've seen this week should serve as a reminder of the sometimes devastating impact one moment's distraction can have on those around us.


National Accident Helpline

Go vegan for January to help save wildlife

Last week came the depressing news that wild animal populations all across the world are plummeting.

The Living Planet Report, produced by WWF and the Zoological Society of London, found that mass extinctions and climate change are the key signs of a human-dominated world.

One of the main industries singled out for its damning contribution is animal farming.

Our diet is having a profoundly damaging effect on wildlife. Jaguars, armadillos and maned wolves are in decline in South America, for example, because of feed grown for farmed animals in Europe, while overfishing is decimating aquatic species.

The situation is dire, but we do not have to wait for Government and industry to act: each of us can make a real difference.

Veganuary encourages people to try a plant-based diet throughout the month of January, and last year 23,000 people took part.

They signed up because they wanted to protect farmed animals, the environment and to improve their health.

Now we are asking everyone who cares about mass extinction of wildlife to take part. Veganuary is upbeat, supportive and non-judgmental and more than half of those who try it choose to stay vegan at the end.

So, for salamanders and anteaters, coral reefs and spider monkeys, please visit and try vegan next January.



Give new traffic flow system a green light

Travelling out of Belfast towards Saintfield recently, most traffic lights I came to were red or turning red.

In this age of computers, it would surely be possible to set up a traffic flow system that would allow motorists keeping to the speed limit to flow smoothly through a number of sets of lights.

This would have a number of advantages, including reducing pollution, fuel usage, noise, driver stress and encouraging adherence to speed limits (as exceeding them would mean arriving at lights set at red).

This system has been in operation in Germany for more than 40 years with significant reductions in fuel usage and smoother traffic flow in cities.

Speeds are regulated by a display beside the main lights, showing a speed limit that guarantees all subsequent lights will be green. Bliss!


Kilkeel, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph


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