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Ballee YC shuts after 40 years

Thursday, 1 March 2018

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BALLEE Youth Club is set to close its doors for the final time on March 14.
The club, which first opened in 1978, is  to amalgamate with Ballykeel Youth Club.
Centre Leader, Eric Gilmore, said the closure was a "hard pill to swallow".
Eric has worked with the club for 21 years, moving up through the ranks as a volunteer to become centre leader for the last four years.
He said: "Ballee Youth Club was always the heart of a wonderful community that worked with us hand in hand,  it's the community of Ballee & Ballymena South that I feel for. "Another youth centre closed down. This is all down to the financial strains & pressure put on youth workers to achieve excellent results with very little financial backing.
“Back in my earlier days when I first started in Ballee I was under the guidance of Paul Murdoch. This guy taught me everything and has put me where I am today. Without his continuous support and help throughout the years I would not be where I am today. So I wish to say a massive thank you Paul."
According to Eric Ballee Youth Club over the last 21 years has seen approximately 62,500 young people through its doors.
He added that the club      first opened in 1978 which may have seen "another  50k-60k of young people through the doors" during the previous 19 years.
 "You could be looking at the overall total being around 120k young people," he said.
Commenting on his work with the club Eric said:  "My 21 years has been an absolute blast and I would not replace any of it. The memories will last a life time and ones I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“The young people have been amazing and their support since the news broke that we were closing to almalgamate with Ballykeel has been second to none. I will be encouraging my young people to attend Ballykeel and enjoy every minute they get and also to grab every opportunity they get also to take part in programmes and activities.
“Over the last 4 years since I made the step up after Paul left when the school closed its doors never did I think I would get the opportunities that I did. The staff were second to none and always supported everything and gave their all.
“I would personally like to think George Foster, Donna Service, Gary McAllister, Amy Thompson for their dedication. Over the last 4 years we had seen 26,000 - 28,000 in funding come through our doors for Intervention & inclusion programmes which were very successful and at present we are still working with a group of Young People from Castle Tower School.
“Ballee will always be where my heart lies and I will never forget the friendships and the support I have built up over the years with the people of the community and also parents of my young people! So I want to say a thank you to each and everyone of them.
“When our doors close for the last time on March 14  it will be an emotional occasion especially after serving 21 years in the one establishment, it becomes part of your everyday routine. I will certainly have to find something to do now to fill the void.
“I will enjoy the summer with my family and then see what the future holds.
“I want my young people to enjoy their new adventure and I want to wish each and every one of them best wishes and good luck in the years to come. One thing I want them all to carry forward from Ballee Youth Club is manners, support, encouragement and most of all the Club Motto: " Be The Best You Can Be", Eric concluded.

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