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Hello, there. I'm Jo Scott, and you're very welcome to Lifeline.
On today's programme,
we'll be hearing about the Linen Hall library
as it gets ready to celebrate a special birthday.
And we'll be finding out what's so interesting at Belfast Zoo.
But first, to today's appeal from Belfast Lough,
where Denise Watson's been taking to the high seas.
Who wouldn't enjoy the thrill and excitement of sailing,
kayaking, or motor boating on a beautiful day on Belfast Lough?
These water sports are offered to anyone with a physical,
mental, or learning disability.
Belfast Lough Sailability has a small fleet of specially-designed boats.
They enable their members to experience the joy and freedom
that the open water provides.
One of the sailors is Elizabeth, who along with her assistance dog,
Barnaby, is able to teach other disabled people how to sail.
I've always loved being on the water. And being out.
I learnt to row originally
when I was a kid on the park ponds in Scotland.
And when I heard about Belfast Lough Sailability,
I couldn't wait to see was it possible to join.
The particular thrill for me is that I'm now able to take other
disabled people out and help them to learn to sail.
I mean, when I joined Belfast Sailability,
I never thought that would happen!
Belfast Lough Sailability is a charity run solely by volunteers.
They gladly give up their time and expertise to enable people
with disabilities to get afloat in a safe and friendly environment.
We were out sailing today.
I don't think sailing is a dangerous sport for disabled people.
I think it's a really good opportunity for them
to put themselves out of their comfort zone.
To maybe challenge themselves
in a way that they aren't challenged before.
They want to experience something that's different,
something that's exciting, just as much as able-bodied people do.
I think it's really good to get them out on the water
and to push their boundaries.
The Sea Rover is a boat which wheelchair users can easily access.
I always wanted to be out on the water and see what it looks like.
Because it's nice to see the different wildlife as well.
We do see a lot of seals out in the harbour.
They're nice to look at.
Now, you've got to meet Bill.
He's blind and has been sailing competitively for 30 years.
-Bill, I understand you're an instructor as well?
I would help out with training people how to tie knots
and basic sail theory and so on.
And you're also keen to encourage others to join up?
Oh, yes. Sailability is always looking out for new members.
Although you come down as a stranger, within a short time,
you'll be part of our big happy family here
and we'll have you out sailing.
All activities take place from their base at Carrickfergus Marina,
which is fully accessible.
All volunteers are well trained and safety is paramount.
Belfast Lough Sailability is funded by donations and small grants,
but it needs your help to buy much-needed safety equipment.
£100 will buy a lifejacket.
£150, a hand-held radio.
And £55 will provide fuel for one session.
Every time we take 20, 30, five people out, even,
there's a support network there that actually costs money
and that's what we're looking for funding for, to enable us
to support bringing people out.
I believe they get a sense of fun, they get a sense of freedom
while they are out on the water.
They make new friends, they can develop new skills.
They get out and enjoy sailing, which is normally a sport
not accessible to everybody.
And they just have a great time.
Belfast Lough Sailability could make a difference to you, too.
If you have a disability, just call them
if you want to get out on the water.
And if you can make a small donation, that would be very much appreciated.
If you'd like to donate to Sailability online,
..and click on the donate button.
Or write to the Appeals Office at...
Well, if it's books you're into, you're in luck here.
We've got a first edition of Ulysses by James Joyce.
And a fabulous Napoleon's Activities in Arabic, no less, John.
-And you've got a big birthday coming up next month?
-On 13 May this year, we will be 225 years old.
Which is a tremendous achievement
for any organisation to exist in this world.
John, so many stories, so steeped in history.
And it's hard to imagine that this place was once
-frequented by radicals and revolutionaries.
-Well, it was.
The period in which it was founded
was a radical period in European history,
in British history and Irish history.
One of our first committee members was Henry Joy McCracken,
who was a founder member of the Belfast United Irishmen,
led the insurgents at Antrim in '98 and unfortunately paid for it
with his life.
Well, John, I can imagine it's difficult to keep a lending library
like this open when you've got so much competition from online.
Well, we've risen to the challenge for 225 years.
The digital era is something that we have embraced.
And we have digitised our own collections
and currently we are involved in a very exciting outreach project
with schools across Northern Ireland,
using our theatre and performing arts archive.
Great stuff. Well, changing times.
And let me wish you many happy returns for next month.
-Thank you very much.
-Now, of course you can't beat a good read.
But there wasn't much time for reading when a group of people
left their day job to try their hand at volunteering at Belfast Zoo.
The employer supported volunteering scheme gives people
a chance to see if volunteering suits them.
And these hardy souls certainly got a lot of attention
as they were set to work maintaining the pig and bear enclosures.
It's a whole new experience, because they're seeing animals
they've never even heard of, let alone seen.
They're learning from it the role of a modern-day zoo.
It's brilliant, fantastic.
We wanted to volunteer today to try
and put a wee bit back into the community.
And also, from my point of view,
incorporate a wee bit of team building.
It's rewarding because you know you're doing it for animals.
Doing it here, it's not just going to be a playing field
and there's nothing here. We've seen a family out the back.
We're looking to get the family into here and be running around
and just excited to know that that's going to happen in the end.
It's an ideal opportunity to do something new,
to dip your toe in the water of volunteering.
And hopefully encourage and inspire people to do more.
People get involved
because it's a great opportunity to work together as a team.
It has great results that will be of benefit to the local community.
Well, no sign of any meerkats in here,
but it is a fabulous book by the father of zoology, Conrad Gesner.
Now it's time to take a quick look at today's community noticeboard.
And you have until Friday to apply for Action Cancer's
Health Action awards, which allocate prizes to nurseries,
schools and colleges who encourage health promotion.
Phone or e-mail for an entry form.
Also on Friday,
you can join a sponsored sea kayak paddle on Strangford Lough.
Get a fundraising pack from Emma at the Meningitis Research Foundation.
And there are still tickets available for next month's
Concentio Chamber Choir performance
at Hillsborough Castle in aid of the SOS Bus Northern Ireland.
Well, details of this
and other upcoming events are, of course, on our website.
For now, though, thanks for watching Lifeline. See you next time.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd