Mourne Heritage Trust AGM 2015

02-Nov-2015


Mourne Heritage Trust held a well-attended Annual General Meeting, its eighteenth, at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre, Bryansford.   

Councillor Naomi Bailie, Chair of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, welcomed guests and provided the opening remarks. She highlighted the importance of the Mourne landscape, recognised by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation, to the new Council area.  Emphasising the vital nature of the services provided by the Trust on behalf of Council, she looked forward to continuing to work in partnership to maximise benefits at a time of constraint on public finances.   

Mourne Heritage Trust Chairman, Desmond Patterson, reflected on what had been a challenging time for the Trust in relation to changes in government structures and the very real threat of removal of its core funding. He acknowledged the support that came from elected representatives of all parties, community organisations, local people and visitors and thanked the Trust staff for their dedication in this period and for successfully navigating the choppy waters. Mr Patterson looked forward to building the relationship with the new Council and also wished success to the new Chief Executive of Tourism NI, John McGrillen - a former Board member of the Trust.   

Chief Executive Martin Carey spoke of the success of the #LoveMourne campaign, initiated when the Department of the Environment terminated the funding programme that had previously provided the bulk of the organisation’s operating resources. He highlighted the online petition signed by over 1500 people and the expressions of support in many other forms which, he said, not only caught the attention of policy makers but helped sustain the morale of all associated with the Trust.   

After approval of the audit report, presented by Mrs Una Cunningham of Purdy Quinn Ltd, Kilkeel the Trustees to the charity’s Board were elected.  Mr Patterson expressed his particular gratitude to long-standing members Rosemary Chestnutt, Seamus Doyle, Elizabeth Ingram and Martin McMullan, who were stepping down.   

A review of the Trust’s business celebrated some significant achievements. These included a raft of completed projects built, cultural and natural heritage projects under the Mourne Mountains Landscape Partnership, progress with the piloting of wildfire prevention techniques in partnership with Fire & Rescue Service, developments in path repair and mountain bike trail maintenance and in working with tourism business to enhance heritage related visitor experiences.   

With the MP for South Down, Margaret Ritchie, sending her apologies - having been delayed in Westminster - the closing remarks were given over to the Trust’s stakeholders through a sample of the comments Trust left on the #LoveMourne petition appreciating the Mourne area and the work of the Trust in caring for it.   

The Trust’s online annual report, featuring detail and photographs of the Trust’s work, can can be found at www.caringformourne.com