Home COMMUNITY Oscar winner James Martin shines a light for peace this Christmas

Oscar winner James Martin shines a light for peace this Christmas

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OSCAR winner James Martin takes a breather from his hectic globe-trotting schedule to invite people in Northern Ireland and beyond to shine a light for peace this Christmas.

Martin, who recently returned from yet another trans-Atlantic trip to the United States, was delighted to accept the honour of being Corrymeela Ambassador for the ‘Shine a Light for Peace’ campaign.

The ever-jovial James, a former pupil of Harberton Special School in Belfast, explained that he has a personal link to Corrymeela Community’s Ballycastle Centre: “It’s my home from home. It is a special place, a haven of peace, ever since I came down from Belfast with my friend Ross to visit the Community for a first time. 

“I fell in love with Corrymeela – and all it stands for. Since those short-trouser days I have been coming here and living in this area during most weekends for over twenty years.”

“This is where I can ignore all the pressures of film making and such like. The ‘Shine of Light’ project is now more important than ever, considering all the world-wide unrest.”

As Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation charity, Corrymeela has been shining a light for peace for nearly 60 years. Every year Corrymeela supports around 7,500 people, who are mainly from marginalised communities, to explore difference and discover ways to live well together.

This year, Corrymeela is inviting supporters to light up a life by dedicating a light on their virtual Christmas tree on their own tree at home or at work and making a contributing to their peacebuilding work.

‘With increasing conflict in the wider world, and increased tensions locally, our Shine a Light campaign gives people in Northern Ireland and beyond an opportunity to bring some hope this Christmas’ says Tim Magowan, Corrymeela’sExecutive Director. ‘We are delighted that James is willing to share some of his star dust with us to inspire us all to contribute to a more peaceful world in 2024’. 

James’s father Ivan, the ever supportive and wise council, returned with his son from a helter-skelter assignment in New York and added: “After spending so much time with our neighbours at Corrymeela it is a delight to be invited along with James to this enormously worthwhile ‘Shine a Light’ Christmas campaign.

“Corrymeela’s work today in society is as relevant and important as it was when the project was launched all those years ago. 

“The values that Corrymeela stand for are more important today than they ever were. Just look at the daily world news of unrest all over the globe and the need for peace is so desperately important. “Indeed, I feel we must re-double our efforts to make sure of maintaining peace here in this country.

“Of course, Corrymeela has always been a shining light of hope for Down Syndrome youngsters such as James, who came here for a first time all those years ago. We have never forgotten the significance and all that welcoming help.”

James, of course, made Oscar history as the first actor with Downs Syndrome to star in an Academy award winning film, ‘An Irish Goodbye’ – which won Best Live Action Short Film.

Despite the understandable lavish praise and being constantly in the spotlight, young Martin keeps his feet firmly on terra firma, more especially when wandering around the Corrymeela village for a misty-eyed search across the water towards Rathlin Island – and always with chirpy word for everyone he encounters.

Unsurprisingly, this down-to-earth young man brought his own special livewire light to launch Corrymeela’s first Christmas Campaign – ‘Shine a Light for Peace; at the Ballycastle centre.

He was joined by his erudite father, Ivan and the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens – Cllr Steven Callaghan – to highlight the importance of peace in Northern Ireland.

Of course, the Corrymeela centre, a short stop on a headland south east of Ballycastle Harbour and on the way to the craggy coastal tourist trap of Fair Head, is Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organisation and has been shining a light for peace for almost 60 years.

Established by Ray Davy along with John Morrow and Alex Watson in the 1960’s, Corrymeela is known worldwide, ever since its doors opened to the public in 1965 as a place for Christian reconciliation.

Corrymeela runs programmes aimed at establishing a shared society defined by tolerance in schools, families, communities.

Every year Corrymeela supports around 7,500 people, who are mainly from marginalised communities, to explore difference and discover ways to live well together.