Bringing the community together

SINCE Magherafelt Parish Centre opened its doors in 2009 hundreds of events, limitless volunteers and thousands of patrons have passed through its doors.

Transformed from a debilitated snooker club, the King Street facility is now considered a hub for the community across the district, providing a range of cross-community facilities including a variety of classes for children, dieters, pensioners, fitness enthusiasts, as well as beginners.

Currently 60 volunteers help run the bustling coffee shop, events and the range of programmes on offer at the town centre building alongside the centre’s three staff members, manager Mona McGlade, cook Berenice Scullion and Ngaire Kelly, kitchen assistant.

All three have helped the parish centre blossom from September 2009 and have watched how the centre, it’s facilities, including a 400 seater concert hall, have brought the community together on an almost daily basis.

“The centre serves a lot of purposes, its not only the range of classes we have here, but the opportunity for volunteering too,” explains centre manager Mona McGlade.

“We have a lot of retired people here that are availing of that confidence building that comes with volunteering. The centre is here to serve the community as a whole.”

“Our main hall, the O’Byrne Hall, can seat up to 400 people and is used a lot by external groups for concerts and big events.

“There’s a kitchen upstairs as well. The centre can also provide catering for events such as birthday parties and christenings.”

“Then there’s the coffee shop,” adds Mona.

“It is the one thing that all parishioners can use on a daily basis. A lot of the classes we have on might not suit a lot of people, but the coffee shop is here for everyone.

The coffee shop is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 9.30am to 3pm and provides a range of home cooked meals including hot lunches and light snacks.

“We get fantastic feedback from people really appreciating the home cooked food,” says head cook Berenice Scullion.

“When we first opened here I had every chance to order all our food from a company, but we chose not to do that. We wanted to focus on home cooking with locally sourced produce. From tray bakes, to bread, to pastries to soup, even potato bakes and lasange according to how busy I am.

“And the feedback is just great. We have been told that we have the best apple tarts, pastries, great credit from all customers.

“That’s what keeps me going and gives me the incentive to do a good job.”

For more information on Magherafelt Parish Centre, including booksings, events and classes contact (028) 796 31726 or log on to www.magherafeltparish.org