Kerr's Corner

Kerr's Corner is a regular feature in East Antrim and Newtownabbey editions of The Wizard. David Kerr would like to hear your memories of life in your own area. Maybe you'll trigger some thoughts for a future column. kerrscorner@ulsteronline.org.uk

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Newtownabbey Animal Welfare

David Kerr talks to Bessie Moffett from the Newtownabbey Animal Welfare Support Group based in the Monkstown Estate. If you are involved in a local charity, community group or project and want to talk to Kerr’s Corner get in touch through kerrscorner@ulsteronline.org.uk or The Wizard office at Enterprise House, 55 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8FE.

IF YOU’RE ever in the Monkstown Estate in Newtownabbey you may well pass the dreary looking Abbeytown Square shopping centre. Don’t let the brutalist 1960s architecture put you off, though. This centre houses the Newtownabbey Animal Welfare Support Group’s excellent Thrift Shop. When the shop opened four years ago this coming May, the centre was virtually derelict. Newtownabbey Animal Welfare helped bring back some life to the centre. Today, it houses a taxi office, a hairdresser, a community group and a domestic laundry service.

Recently, I talked to Bessie Moffett, a member of Newtownabbey Animal Welfare’s committee. Mrs Moffett talks enthusiastically of the work of the group over the past four or so years since its foundation, initially to support the Mid-Antrim Animal Sanctuary in Antrim town.

The group still supports the Mid-Antrim shelter, but has extended its assistance to needy animal welfasre groups all over Northern Ireland. Through the Thrift Shop and a number of fundraising functions and sponsored activities, the group has been able to make donations to other abimal shelters – the Millvale shelter in Dromara, the Crosskennan Lane Animal Shelter in Ballynoe, Co Antrim, and the Bright Eyes shelter in Co Fermanagh. The group’s earnest fundraising helped to put a van on the road to get around its sparsely populated rural hinterland. Their contributions still help to keep this van insured and road-worthy. A donation from the group helped the Rally Equestrian Centre to rebuild the fire-damaged accommodation after a blaze hit one of its buildings.

The group also does what it can to help pet owners, especially elderly folk, who find themselves unable to pay for treatment for their much-loved pets. Mrs Moffett emphasises that the group has a strict ‘no kill’ policy. It will pay for neutering and essential vaccinations and treatment for sick animals but it will not pay for any animal to be killed.

Some readers may remember a nine-week-long protest by animal lovers at a Whiteabbey nursing home a few years ago. The then matron at the home banned the feeding of feral cats and called in pest control experts to exterminate them, claiming that they were a health hazard to residents. Newtownabbey Animal Welfare activists spearheaded the campaign to save the cats, with the help of a sympathetic neighbour who allowed them onto her land. The remaining cats in the area are still fed by a volunteer from the group as are other feral colonies in the area.

The Thrift Shop is open from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm on weekdays and from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm on Saturdays. Naturally, donations of cash, good clean clothes and household goods, bric-a-brac, CDs, videos and DVDs are most welcome as are new volunteers to help keep everything going.

There’s not much passing trade, though, in this isolated corner of the Estate, so I recommend that you take a special trip to see the place. If you have nothing to donate, then go and buy something. Every little helps!

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