McArthur Centenary Commemorations awarded Inspire mark

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A series of commemorative events to celebrate the K.K. McArthur Centenary 1912-2012 in Dervock and Ballymoney have been granted the Inspire mark by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

The London 2012 Inspire programme recognises innovative and exceptional projects that are directly inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Ballymoney Borough Council and Dervock & District Community Association submitted a joint application for the prestigious Inspire mark and both were delighted to learn that their plans for the K.K. McArthur Centenary will become part of the growing network of exciting events and activities linked to the London 2012 Games.

This year’s celebrations in North Antrim will focus on the Dervock born athlete Kennedy Kane McArthur who won the Olympic marathon in Stockholm a century ago. Included in the commemoration will be a museum exhibition, a new play on McArthur’s life and a Festival of Running. The Festival of Running will be held at Dervock on Saturday 21 July and include a marathon, half-marathon and 10km race, all of which are expected to attract athletes from across Northern Ireland.

The commemoration received a welcome boost recently when it was announced that the Olympic Torch Relay would pass through Dervock on 3 June. This has created huge excitement in the village and it promises to be a day to remember.

Seb Coe, Chair of LOCOG said: “The Inspire programme is ensuring the legacy of the 2012 Games starts now as projects like the K.K. McArthur Centenary are enabling people in Ballymoney and Dervock to make positive life changes.”

Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Carál Ní Chuilín said: “The Cultural Olympiad has been delivering activities across the north since 2008, reaching over 300,000 people. The celebration in Dervock highlighting the heritage of Kennedy Kane McArthur will take place during the Olympic Torch Relay and expresses the importance of the Games to communities of all sizes and in all corners of the north.”

Mayor of Ballymoney, Councillor Ian Stevenson, thanked LOCOG: “It is a tremendous privilege for the commemoration of the K.K. McArthur Centenary to be recognized by LOCOG in this way and I am very grateful to them. The Inspire mark is a worthy reward for all the hard work and dedication of those involved in this project, at grassroots in the community and as Council officers. I’d also like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for their generous support of our museum’s plans in 2012.”

Frankie Cunningham, Chairman of the Dervock & District Community Association (DDCA) added: “Following the award of the LOCOG ‘Open Weekend’ for last summer’s Village Festival, when Dame Mary Peters also unveiled an Ulster History Circle plaque to commemorate McArthur on our Market House, the Inspire mark was the next target on which we at DDCA set our sights. Having now received the great news that we have this official link to London 2012, I know the events planned for the centenary celebration in Ballymoney and Dervock will gain an even higher profile. Achieving the Inspire mark encapsulates the very characteristics that represent the embodiment of K.K. McArthur’s spirit in winning the race. DDCA would also like to thank our partners in the centenary commemoration who have been so supportive in helping us reach this point - Ballymoney Borough Council, Springwell Running Club and Supporting Communities NI. Therefore in the words that ‘Inspired’ Big Ken – “Come on Antrim, come on ye boy ye”.

More details about the K.K. McArthur Centenary programme will be released early next year and organizers are confident that the exhibition, play and Festival of Running will make 2012 a year to remember.