Learning Disability Pride: Oscar winner James Martin to lead parade at Carrickfergus event

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Learning Disability Pride is set to make a spectacular return to Carrickfergus this summer after a pandemic-hit gap.

Last Wednesday organisers celebrated ‘one month to go’ until the event, with performances from Makaton choirs and boats taking to the water near the seaside town.

Learning Disability Pride will be held on Saturday, June 24, beginning with a noon carnival parade from Taylor’s Avenue along the seafront to Carrickfergus Castle.

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The parade will be led by Oscar-winning actor James Martin, who entered the Guinness Book of Records this year as the first person with Down’s Syndrome to receive the award.

Carrickfergus Castle will be the backdrop for the Learning Disability Pride event on June 24.Carrickfergus Castle will be the backdrop for the Learning Disability Pride event on June 24.
Carrickfergus Castle will be the backdrop for the Learning Disability Pride event on June 24.

Tom Haighton, Chair of the Learning Disability Pride Organising Committee said: “We’re delighted to be back in Carrickfergus this year and after the gap we’ve had we’re determined to make this a fantastic, fun-filled, celebration. James taking time out of his busy schedule to join us in the parade really is the icing on the cake.”

There will be family fun activities in the castle car park, including live entertainment hosted by Q Radio’s Declan Wilson.

The line-up features dance and drama performances from learning disability organisations and music from local band This Way Up.

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Other activities will include arts and crafts, face painting, bouncy castles and a petting farm.

The packed programme under the theme ‘Do Your Thing’ will also feature market stalls, food vendors and workshops such as drumming and drama.

Learning Disability Pride is organised by the Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club and supported by Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Mencap, Kilcreggan Homes, AEL, Sense NI, Caring Breaks, Positive Futures, Praxis Care, My Community, Cedar Foundation and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The star of Oscar-winning NI short film, An Irish Goodbye, James Martin was earlier this month recognised for his outstanding contribution to the arts after he was made an honorary graduate of Ulster University.

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Commenting on the honour, James said: “I will be delighted to receive this Honorary Doctorate from Ulster University in recognition of my contribution to An Irish Goodbye. We had a great team working on the movie which told a universal story that people really connected with and enjoyed watching. The impact it has had on people with learning difficulties has been very positive.”