Surfing made accessible for over 100 people via Larne’s Mae Murray Foundation

A Larne charity is provding surfing experiences for people with complex disabilities with support from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The Mae Murray Foundation is using a £9,983 grant to take 115 people from across Northern Ireland surfing using a sit-down surfboard at Benone beach, hear Limavady.

The project will enable them to feel empowered, meet others safely and take part in physical activities following a long period of shielding during the pandemic.

Kyleigh Lough, operations manager, Mae Murray Foundation, said: “Since receiving the National Lottery money we’ve been putting the only ‘sit-down’ surfboard in Northern Ireland to good use with 100 members taking to the waves so far, seeking the thrill of the surf, giving them such a boost.

Talia and instructor Dan taking to the waves with the Mae Murray Foundation.

“Family members have joined in either on the water or back at shore too, meaning over 300 people have benefited from this inclusive project already, having so much fun together. I can’t thank The National Lottery Community Fund and National Lottery players enough for helping us empower people and improve their wellbeing by giving them a chance to take part in activities on the beach together, that most of us take for granted.”

The charity strives for participation for all in leisure and social settings, regardless of age or ability. During 2017 Benone Strand was announced as Northern Ireland’s first fully inclusive beach thanks to work carried out by the Mae Murray Foundation, in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.


Across all council areas, 81 projects are receiving £2,651,839 with grants from £1,000 to half a million pounds helping isolated older people, children as they return to school, those living with poverty or challenges around long term health conditions or disability.

Also receiving funding in the east Antrim area are Carnlough Women’s Institute and Contact Combative Defence Systems CIC.

The former is using a £1,910 grant to provide a drop-in centre at Ardclinis Parish Hall every Wednesday, 11am-1.00pm, where people can meet, take part in a range of activities, and feel like a part of the community once again.

Contact Combative Defence Systems, which is based in Larne, is using a £10,000 grant to provide non-aggressive, self-defence skills, to survivors of domestic violence. The project is running classes in Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey, and will receive referrals from Women’s Aid and White Ribbon.

Paul Sweeney, the National Lottery Community Fund’s NI chair, said: “I’m looking forward to seeing how these projects improve the lives of people from across Northern Ireland as we start to re-build and re-connect following our experiences of the pandemic over the last 18 months.”

For more information on applying for funding visit



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