Rebecca and Amy work to organise the annual St. Patrick parade in Fermanagh.
The project is entirely voluntary, yet it manages to attract people to march and attend the parade from across communities over a very large area.
“We run the project ourselves from the ground up, starting without any funding. We did fundraising ourselves all year long with bag packing, fancy dress nights etc. We got people involved for the sake of being part of something and being proud of it. For the buzz!
Each year there is a total of 1020 hours of voluntary hours of committee time given. There are over 700 people involved in the parade and this year an estimated 16,000 people came along to watch or participate.
We made it clear that we were having a no flags policy from the outset for those participating in the Parade. The only flags to be allowed on the parade were to be the flags bearing the logo of the committee. This meant we had Protestant bands marching as well as Catholic ones, it was a huge cross-community success.
The British Legion have welcomed Project St Patrick this year with a banner outside their building (where we set off on the parade). It was all decorated internally as well, with shamrocks, and the bands were invited for drinks there afterwards, in their hall.
We hold the parade in the afternoon to avoid clashes with early morning parades held by different villages. The feedback has been incredibly positive - 'it’s a great spectacle', 'the buzz about the place', 'you can see neighbours from across the county!' "
The St Patrick Project shows the difference that committed volunteers make in putting their place on the map, and generating pride and belonging in their communities by working on commonalities and a sense of shared identity - in this case, pride in their county. They are able to build up a huge network of supporters and participants because of their passion and willingness to work with anyone who wants to get involved.
Can you think of something that happens near you, which brings many different people together in a shared celebration?