FOR the past 24 years, the Ballywillan Men’s Fellowship has provided a weekly meeting-place for the retired and semi-retired men of the district.
During that time, several hundred speakers have entertained and enlightened the members through varied talks and presentations. Just as importantly, hundreds of friendships have been made in the informal atmosphere of the pre-meeting gatherings where tea, coffee, biscuits and chat are enjoyed in equal measure.
Never intended as a strictly Ballywillan Only gathering, nor confined to any particular religious leanings, the Fellowship has lived up to its initial expectations and can claim members from every church denomination in the area, as well as many with no church connections at all.
Members come not only from the Portrush district, but from a wide area extending up to a dozen miles away and including Coleraine and Portstewart. All are welcome, for encouraging friendship has been a principal aim of the Ballywillan Fellowship.
Meetings are held in the Hall, The Frazer Room or Link areas of the Church on Thursday mornings from September to April, starting at 10.30am.
Lunch is also enjoyed several times during the year by Fellowship members, their families and friends, as well as occasional outings to places of interest throughout the Province.
There is a small annual fee (£12) and another £1 per meeting, which helps to defray speakers’ expenses and subsidise the outings, but the Fellowship also aims to make donations each year to two charities selected at the annual meeting.
In recent years, charities supported have included Stand By Me, Oasis, the Children’s Hospice, Willie’s Orphan Fund, Romanian Orphans and LIFT. For example, in 2016/2017 the Children’s Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support are the chosen charities.
Membership and attendances have been well maintained over the years, but the Fellowship is always keen to welcome new members.
The programme of speakers to December 2021 is as follows: September 23rd - The Leprosy Mission NI (Rebecca Parnell); 30th September - A Life in Sport and Broadcasting (Liam Beckett); 7th October - NI and World War 2 (Frazer Agnew); 14th October - Footsteps of Saint Paul in Greece (Robert Steven); 21st October - Life in China (Rev S MIllen); 28th October - Yes Minister! (Sir Nigel Hamilton; 4th November - a Unique Peace Centre (Rev T Magowan); 11th November - An Azerbaijan Adventure (Norman Gallagher); 18th November - The Road to Mandalay (D & J Wilson); 25th November - On Your Bike (Rev J Dickenson); "nd December - TBC; 9th December - LUNCH!