Inishowen’s Free Wee Library Project has been lauded at an “inspirational” awards ceremony hosted by the BBC in Media City, Manchester.
The voluntary initiative came runner-up in the Epic Awards and was also the joint winner in the Peer Award for Excellence with Crafty Corner in Derry.
The Epic Awards is an annual initiative run by Voluntary Arts which shines a spotlight on excellence and achievement in the voluntary and amateur arts, and also champions creative cultural participation.
Winning categories were divided into the regions of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, with the Free Wee Library Project just pipped to the post by Dublin-based storytelling group ‘Milk and Cookies,’ the founder of which - Sarah Quigley - has family connections in Buncrana.
The peer award was voted for by those other candidates who had been short listed, one of which included Buncrana woman Bernie Doherty’s lauded anti-bullying exhibition.
Founder of the Free Wee Library Project, Geraldine Timlin, told the Journal she was “absolutely delighted” with their success at the awards, the reception for which was funded by Spirit of 2012.
Geraldine, who was accompanied by her storyteller Aileen McGee, said they received excellent feedback from those in attendance.
She said the calibre of all those who were involved was “outstanding,” adding how it was “great” to see other successful voluntary projects.
She said: “Most of the projects first began by people just getting up and starting them and the funding came later.”
Cultural Policy expert Peter Stark OBE was one of those who was greatly impressed by the project, expressing interest in setting them up in public parks in England.
The reception at Media City in Manchester was compered by BBC Radio 4 presenter Sheila McClennon, who had this to say about her involvement:
She said: “The shortlisted groups are all amazing. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best - storytelling with cake, transforming an unloved corner of the landscape or giving young people access to music making. But done with energy, imagination, love and not a lot of fanfare - these people have made a real difference to their communities.”
The Free Wee Library Project has been going from strength to strength since its inception and recently partnered with the Men’s Shed in Moville for the construction of the libraries themselves.
Geraldine said this went “really, really well” and the men very much enjoyed constructing the libraries. She also revealed there will be a celebration in Swan’s Park on June 27th to mark the second anniversary of the project, in conjunction with the opening of Feel Good Fortnight, which will include story-telling and art. All are welcome.