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Investment in Mid and East Antrim’s creative storytelling experiences

by | Apr 11, 2022

The borough’s latest crop of storytellers is an “investment” in Mid and East Antrim’s cultural heritage landscape, according to an internationally acclaimed writer and storyteller.

Twelve newly qualified storytellers from across the borough have now received NOCN Level 2 Oral Skills for Storytelling qualifications.

NOCN is an educational charity whose core aims are to help learners reach their potential and organisations thrive. The organisation includes business units specialising in the regulated UK and international qualifications, End Point Assessment, Access to Higher Education, assured short courses, SMART job cards, assessment services, consultancy and research.

Led by internationally recognised master storyteller Liz Weir MBE and Cushendun storyteller Stephen O’Hara, the qualification was specifically designed to provide participants with skills to undertake storytelling performances.

Taking place at the Heritage Hub at Carnlough Town Hall, training topics included researching and analysing stories for oral performance commentaries, as well as developing and improving skills required to engage an audience and maintain interest. The course delivery involved a mixture of demonstrations, theory and practical activities, with participants experiencing the work of well-established local storytellers, before culminating in a live performance at the Londonderry Arms Hotel.

Liz Weir MBE explained more about the programme: “This course is an important addition to the cultural heritage landscape of Mid and East Antrim.

“Not only does it provide people with the skills and confidence to develop as professional storytellers, but it also offers the borough increased opportunities for visitors and tourists to tap into the real, lived heritage of the area.

“Investments in authentic and unique creative storytelling experiences which, as well as being aligned to Northern Ireland’s ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’ tourism brand, are of particular interest to tour operators. We hope that the course will help contribute storytellers for future events. There are no other courses like this one and we applaud Tourism NI and Council for supporting the course.”

Jason Powell, Tourism Marketing Manager said: “Storytelling is part of the landscape of Mid & East Antrim and it is great to see that tradition continuing with these newly qualified Storytellers. They will be a great tourism asset, providing visitors with an abundance of stories and memories.”

The newly qualified storytellers include: Vicki McFarland, Sharon Austin (Larne), Portia Woods (Larne); Michael Bird (Aughafatten), Franci Simpson (Broughshane); Shirley Gray (Ballymena); Becky Disley (Carrickfergus); Clare McKay (Newtowncrommelin); Jade Hamill (Glenarm); Hilary Bailey (Islandmagee); Clare O’Neill (Rathkenny) and Alan Hall (Kilwaughter).

The course was funded from Tourism NI’s COVID Market Led Product Development Programme with mentoring and marketing support from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) pilot ‘Rural Tourism Collaborative Experiences Programme’ and organised through Travel & Tourism Associates on behalf of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Ciaran Doherty, Head of Regions at Tourism NI said: “We welcome the council’s exciting new addition to the cultural heritage landscape of Mid and East Antrim. With support from our Market Led Product Development Programme, I am confident that this course will support the development of unique storytelling experiences, creating new and compelling reasons to visit the area.”

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