29 November 18, Mandatory Credit ©Press Eye/Darren Kidd Sports legends, celebrities and Northern IrelandÕs top business people joined forces to enjoy a fabulous night rich in entertainment to support Chris HenryÕs Testimonial Gala Dinner in Belfast City Hall. The Ulster and Ireland rugby icon, who announced his retirement in November, welcomed stars including Johnny Sexton and Rory Best to this spectacular event which raised money for leading local health charity, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke. Chris, who had a mini-stroke in 2014, is delighted that money raised by the event will support the expansion of NICHSÕs stroke services over the next five years. The charity has pledged to double the number of stroke survivors and carers it supports across Northern Ireland by 2023 through expansion of its existing stroke services and developing new services tailored to meet the long term needs of stroke survivors and their carers.Ê For more information on the up and coming events or to support the testimonial year please visit www.chrishenrytestimonial.co.uk or contact Sinead Lynch at NI Chest Heart & Stroke on 028 9032 0184.

Belfast Harbour
2Liz Canning, Head of Book Trust Northern Ireland, pupils from Victoria College and St Joseph’s College, All-Island Children’s Laureate Sarah Crossan and Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour’s Communications & Corporate Responsibility Manager.

The All-Island Children’s Laureate, Sarah Crossan, has inspired 200 young readers at a special event held in Belfast last month.

Organised by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity and supported by Belfast Harbour, the award-winning author spent the day at Ormeau Baths discussing her latest book, ‘Moonrise’, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Children’s Book Award.

200 Year 10 and 11 pupils from Ashfield Boys, St. Dominic’s Girls, St. Joseph’s and Victoria College each received a free, signed copy of ‘Moonrise’.  The pupils have already been debating the book’s themes online and the event gave them the opportunity to continue the discussion in person with the author.

Sarah Crossan was named as Children’s Laureate in May this year by Irish President Michael Higgins.  The theme of her two-year appointment is to inspire young people across Ireland to express themselves through poetry and verse. Sarah’s previous book, ‘One’, won the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the UK’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book award.

Sarah Crossan said:

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been in Belfast to meet new young readers and writers. I was there reminding everyone that poetry belongs to us all.”

Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour’s Communications & Corporate Responsibility Manager, added:

“Belfast Harbour has been supporting the work of the BookTrust in Northern Ireland for over three years and we’re delighted to welcome the Irish Children’s Laureate to Belfast.  An enjoyment of reading and literature is a gateway to educational success, and BookTrust consistently delivers inspirational initiatives for both primary and secondary school-aged pupils.”

Liz Canning, Head of BookTrust Northern Ireland, said:

“We’re overjoyed to be working with Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan once again to help inspire these young minds to think creatively about books and poetry and teach them ways to explore the wider themes. The session was a great success and all the students took away a lot from Sarah’s visit.”

One of the pupils attending, Ava, said:

“I really enjoyed meeting Sarah. She really got in with the crowd and it was a great experience hearing her talk about so passionately about books.”

Salma, another student, commented:

“Sarah was such an engaging speaker.  She really made me fall in love with poetry.”

As part of the project students were invited to ‘chat’ with Sarah and post reviews on her books via an online platform created by the Schools Library Service.   93 students also entered a creative writing competition and the four winners, one from each school, were announced and awarded their prizes by Sarah at the event.

Sarah Crossan is the fifth Irish Children’s Laureate.  Her predecessors have included Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series which has sold over 25million copies worldwide and the award winning Belfast-born illustrator PJ Lynch.

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