Blow for Sailability as funding bid is turned down

Sailability vessels at Carrickfergus Castle.  INCT 45-723-CON
Sailability vessels at Carrickfergus Castle. INCT 45-723-CON

A Carrickfergus-based sailing charity has expressed its disappointment after a bid for funding of up to £1million was turned down.

Belfast Lough Sailability (BLS) was one of six projects, along with Taylor’s’ Avenue Community Regeneration Partnership, who were in the running for the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Space and Place Flagship grant.

The winners of the scheme were initially due to be announced in June of this year.

This was delayed due to an “ongoing economic appraisal” by the Foundation, with an official announcement now expected in December.

However, the sailing charity confirmed that it will not be one of the groups to receive a cash boost, which would have been used to develop a seafront maritime resource centre.

BLS chairperson Anne Taylor said: “We are all very disappointed that our project to build the centre - which would provide on the water activities for those with disabilities and ‘on the water’ access to the wider community - did not receive funding.

“Hopes were high when our project made it to the final six, chosen from applications throughout Northern Ireland. Everyone had worked so hard over the course of two years to apply for funding to purchase the disused ground at Carrickfergus Marina, receiving a lot of help and support from our local community.

“We welcome this opportunity to thank everyone concerned, from the council and professionals who gave advice, to the communities who completed the surveys to show overwhelming support for the project.

“We will continue to provide our unique services to the local and wider community.”

And despite the setback, there are still hopes of developing the centre, added Sailability’s Christine Harper.

“We were told that the application was turned down as we didn’t display enough of a need; it’s a terrible shame since we had got as far as the final six,” she said. “At the moment, we are exploring other funding opportunities.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Taylor’s’ Avenue Partnership declined to comment on whether it had been successful in the funding bid.