The people of Rathlin Island are preparing for their very own supermarket ‘ribbon-cutting’ in the coming weeks as they get ready to re-open their own island shop.
The shop, which has been owned and operated by the Rathlin Community Co-Operative in a different location for over two years, enables islanders to buy their groceries without having to travel to the mainland and therefore supports the unique way of life on Rathlin.
Next week will see the shop move into its new home – a former workshop and storage building - now completely renovated thanks to a £20,000 donation from the Asda Foundation.
The Asda Foundation is a charitable trust set up by the retailer which has donated over £200,000 to local good causes in Northern Ireland since the first Asda store opened here in 2005. The Foundation’s work is administered through Asda’s ‘Community Life’ programme, an ongoing initiative which aims to make the areas around Asda’s 17 Northern Ireland stores a better place for colleagues, customers and the local community. Registered charities can apply for small and large scale grants to the Foundation by contacting the “Community Life Champion” at their local store. A course of action the ‘Rathlin Development & Community Association’ followed when they secured the £20,000 donation to the co-operative.
Michael Cecil, Chairman of RDCA said: “Many of the islanders travel to the mainland and to Asda Coleraine in fact for their regular grocery shop but travelling back and forth on the ferry is expensive and can be inconvenient, especially as winter approaches.
“The Rathlin Island Community Co-Operative Shop allows the islanders to be more self-sufficient and all profits from the shop are reinvested into its upkeep and towards community projects here on Rathlin.”
The Community Life Champion who applied for and secured the donation on behalf of the islanders was Sheila Palmer from Asda Coleraine. Sheila added: “Being from the North Coast area myself I’ve known many people from the island over the years and worked with the Development Community earlier in the year when we hosted a charity tea party there for our breast cancer charity, Tickled Pink. It’s been great to help the islanders through the Foundation’s application process, to get the go ahead and to now to see the shop taking shape.”
The shop, which will re-open on 12th September, will sell groceries sourced from a variety of shops and wholesalers on the mainland and the new premises will allow greater stores to be held in place for times when the weather makes travel across the Rathlin Sound more difficult.
Senior Director for Asda NI, George Rankin, said: “Rathlin Island isn’t just part of the North Coast community but is an important part of Northern Ireland as a whole. We’re delighted that the Asda Foundation is supporting the islander’s way of life with this donation to the Rathlin Community Co-operative, through the RDCA.
“It’s great to get out to the island and see the work which the Foundation is helping to fund and to understand the very real difference it will make to the daily life of the community here on Rathlin.”