Members of the club’s Scholarship programme joined with supporters last month to create a special community project in the heart of Larne.
Along with the Splash Projects team – an award-winning innovative experiential learning programme – Scholars and fans set about creating the Larne Boat Garden.
The Larne Boat Garden is a public sensory garden which was designed and themed around a boat, to connect with the town’s port and nautical spirit and is based in Dixon Park, Larne.
Splash Projects were introduced to Larne Football Club and Kenny Bruce through his friend, Harry Hill, who has been helping to fund Splash Community Projects all over the UK for the last year.
It was their first project with a professional football club, with members of the scholarship programme joining forces with Larne supporters, as they came together throughout the week and volunteered their time – while battling the pouring rain and strong winds!
Sam Harradine, the Programme Director from Splash Project, was delighted to see it all come together, saying: “It has been fantastic to see the community being involved throughout the week of the project, from the volunteers to the Larne FC supporters to all of the academy players who helped dig, construct and finish the project in the rain and mud.
“In addition to the wet weather, this entire project was delivered during a nail-biting week of crucial games in the Irish Cup for Larne. Safe to say, the entire Splash team went back to England being devoted Larne FC supporters.”
Larne Football Club Chairman and Larne Community Football NI Trustee Gareth Clements believes the project, which has been officially handed back to the community, is another visible reminder of the club’s commitment to the whole town.
He said:“As a club, many of you will know that community engagement is very important to us, and over the years we have worked tirelessly to deliver a wide range of activities, building pride and giving as much back to our community as we can.
“To this end we recently completed a very different project, in partnership with Splash Community Projects, and we are absolutely delighted by how it has turned out.
“Kenny Bruce, along with his close friend Harry Hill and a few other close friends, family and business peers made substantial donations to our charity Brighter Futures, enabling us to deliver a new ‘sensory garden’ named Larne Boat Garden at Dixon Park. The garden was built by the club’s army of volunteers on ‘build day’, which was Thursday 20th May.
“The project is unique, because as a club we committed to deliver the build of the garden too – under the supervision and guidance of the Splash team of course. This is the first project of its kind delivered by a football club in Northern Ireland. Our volunteer team included full time academy scholars, club staff, some of the donors themselves, board members, and supporters to whom I am eternally grateful.
“The impact on the community, after a tough year, was very much in evidence at the opening ceremony performed by club captain Jeff Hughes and his grandmother Kate (a local resident) on Friday 21st May.
“Upon completion, the garden was handed back to the Dixon Park Community Group and Roddensvale School, as key beneficiaries of the new resource. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have committed to maintaining the garden going forward, and we hope that this is the first of a number of these projects to be delivered across Larne in the coming months and years.”
For more information on what Splash Projects do within communities all across the world, you can check out their website here – https://splashprojects.com/