By Anton McCabe, reporting on behalf of VIEWdigital. Images: North West Newspix

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane, Brian Tierney, launched the latest issue of VIEW magazine in Strabane yesterday (August 25).

Councillor Tierney, is pictured above, second left, with SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan, far left, and Anne O’Neill, chairperson of The Kathleen Graham Trust; VIEW editor Brian Pelan, and VIEWdigital deputy editor Kathryn Johnston.

The latest issue of VIEW issue pays tribute to the work of front-line workers and volunteers in the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Mayor said he was delighted to launch the edition at the Fir Trees Hotel in Strabane.

“I think it’s a very important edition, pointing out the work of the community and voluntary sector through the pandemic,” he said.

“I’m very pleased to see my friend and colleague, Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor Paul McCusker, as guest editor. I’m really looking forward to reading it.”

The Kathleen Graham Trust supported the issue. Trust Chair Anne O’Neill said they were delighted VIEW had chosen Strabane. “As a community we have experienced more than our share of hardship.”

That was not all, she added: “There has been a spirit of sharing in the people of this area. It takes people like the community activists present today to spur people into action.” In the pandemic, local volunteers from The Kathleen Graham Trust organised services such as food distribution to those at risk; a befriending service; and making and distributing of personal protective equipment.

Ms O’Neill explained the Trust stems from the generosity of lottery winners Frances and Peter Connolly. Frances, who is from Strabane, set up the Trust, which is named after her mother.

‘VIEW HAS ITS FINGER ON THE PULSE OF DAILY HUMAN EXPERIENCE’

“A magazine like VIEW is central to highlighting needs, and the ways of meeting them,” said Ms O’Neill. “It has been instrumental in highlighting how much good has been done since the pandemic.” She said that “VIEW has its finger on the pulse of daily human experience.”
VIEW digital deputy editor Kathryn Johnston thanked people who spoke to them for the issue “We couldn’t have got as far as we did without them,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to produce one issue of the VIEW without you in the community speaking to us.”

Ms Johnston said the words of the American poet Maya Angelou rang true: “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.”

VIEW editor Brian Pelan said he remembered how he and his neighbours had clapped for the NHS. “To clap every Thursday for the NHS was good. But what the the NHS really needs is money,” he said.

“In times of crisis, there’s no better force than community,” he added.