Carrick-based sailing charity’s Belfast showcase

Bob and Christine Harper, founders, Belfast Lough Sailability, with (front) Kerry Mussen, service user and Andrew McCracken, chief executive, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. INCT 40-793-CON
Bob and Christine Harper, founders, Belfast Lough Sailability, with (front) Kerry Mussen, service user and Andrew McCracken, chief executive, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. INCT 40-793-CON

The work of Carrickfergus waterfront-based Belfast Lough Sailability has been showcased for a party of international visitors.

The charity, which brings sailing to hundreds of people with a physical or learning disability, brought one of its boats on stage at the UK Community Foundations conference in Belfast.

The presentation allowed 320 delegates from the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada and the USA to visualise Sailability’s work.

Bob and Christine Harper, the charity’s founders, and wheelchair user Kerry Mussen energised the audience with the stories they have experienced of hope, achievement and empowerment through learning to sail.

Bob commented: “We are delighted to have been chosen to showcase the amazing work Belfast Lough Sailability has been doing for the last 14 years, helping people with a disability to ‘get afloat’ and enjoy the pleasure of sailing but also to break isolation, develop confidence, and crucially to achieve dreams.

“Without funding from organisations like the Community Foundation, we cannot move forward. We want to thank them for their support over the years.

“The grants we have received have been essential in allowing us to remain sustainable as well as develop new projects and therefore help more isolated people.”

The convention was hosted by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland with the theme Transforming Vision into Reality

Andrew McCracken, chief executive of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted host the UK Community Foundations’ prestigious biennial conference, which has allowed us to showcase the great things local people have achieved with some support from us.

“Belfast Lough Sailability is a great example of what we believe - that the community in Northern Ireland can work together to create the kind of society we want, and that the Community Foundation - a space that enables local people to invest their money in local communities in the most effective way - is a vital part of us creating that future.”

BLS is aiming to develop a maritime resource centre at the seafront.