Ballymena mum makes fresh start in NIHE home

The refurbishment of derelict flats in a Ballymena housing estate into family homes has ensured a fresh start for a bereaved local mum of three.

Contractors move in to start renovating the once derelict flats at the entrance to Dunclug Gardens in Ballymena late last year. (Submitted Picture)

Kelly McConnell unexpectedly found herself on the waiting list for social housing after she lost her husband to cancer in January of last year.

A £126,500 investment by the Housing Executive (NIHE) to transform derelict blocks of flats at Dunclug Gardens into semi-detached properties meant that Kelly, mum to Adrian (16), Katie (14) and Ellie-Mae (four), was able to move into a new family home.

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Kelly’s husband Peter lost his battle with testicular cancer aged just 42 causing devastation to the young mum and her children.

Kelly McConnell (centre) with Housing Executive East Area Manager Mairead Myles Davey with Kieran McAuley, Senior Housing Officer in Ballymena, at her new home. (Submitted Picture).

“It hasn’t been easy, you’re left to deal with everything. I was so blessed when Peter was here, he was such a full on dad and did lots with the kids,” she said.

“Being able to move into this new house has meant such a difference to us in that we all needed a fresh start and our new home has provided that.

“I was over the moon when we came to see the house. I could imagine what it would look like with our things in it. Everything was just perfect when moved in and this is definitely where we call home now,” said Kelly.

She added: “When I contacted the Housing Executive, I didn’t know what to expect but they were great.

“The housing officer that I met on that first occasion worked with me right though until I moved in.

“She made the experience better and it was so nice to have someone like that.

“She came with me on the day that they removed the shutters from the windows so we could move in.

“I would like to thank the housing officer and the Housing Executive for helping us make a fresh start,” added Kelly.

Mairead Myles Davey, NIHE Area Manager for East, said: “Our investment in Dunclug Gardens has meant that former derelict flats, once an eyesore for the entire area, have been transformed into family homes.”

“This investment has removed the blight from the entrance to the estate, helping to establish a more cohesive community in the area, and of course offering two new homes to families, such as Kelly’s.”