Carrick duo take on roles in wartime film

Norma Ingram and her daughter Louise Hanley are extras in the movie 'Zoo'.  INCT 41-722-CON
Norma Ingram and her daughter Louise Hanley are extras in the movie 'Zoo'. INCT 41-722-CON

A mother and daughter duo from Carrickfergus will be making their first foray onto the silver screen in the upcoming movie ‘Zoo’.

Norma Ingram, 60, and her daughter Louise Hanley were selected as extras for the wartime tale, which began filming in Belfast last month.

It is based on the true story of a baby elephant named Sheila, who was rescued from Belfast Zoo by zookeeper Denise Austin before German air raids during WWII.

The heart-warming story is one that both Norma and Louise were familiar with growing up. “I would have heard this story from my parents as my mother lived in Glengormley at the time,” Norma said.

“Some of the more ferocious animals at the zoo had to be killed, but this lady saved the baby elephant and kept it in her backyard in the evening.”

The production is the first taste of the acting world for Norma, from the Windslow area of the town. “I had read on Facebook that [the production] were looking for hymn singers, so I sent it to Louise as she’s the musical coordinator for Holy Trinity Church, Carrickfergus,” she added. “It turned out they were looking for mature ladies as well, so I applied with a couple of photographs. They got back to me and said they’d like to have me on board.”

Filming has offered something of a therapeutic outlet for Norma, who underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2015. “Last year was very difficult for me; I had surgery followed by radiotherapy,” she said. “Thankfully I’m through all that now and back working full time, but I just wanted this year to be different and more positive.

“When you’re recovering from cancer it’s very draining, so it’s been lovely to have the opportunity to do something completely different.”

Louise added: “For me, it’s been a really fascinating glimpse into the world of making movies. It was lovely working alongside my Mum in a few ​​scenes​ and it’s something we both would love to do again, given the opportunity.”

Zoo is due to be released next year and will feature at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

It will feature Game of Thrones stars Art Parkinson and Ian McElhinney, along with Toby Jones (The Hunger Games) and Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton.