The Shankill Pathways Group attended the Prince’s Trust Awards in Titanic Quarter yesterday evening and were the winners of the Lidl Northern Ireland Community Impact Award.

Seven young people from the Extern Shankill Achieve Club were saddened by the overgrown state of a memorial garden made to remember those who had died through addiction and suicide. They transformed it into a more fitting, peaceful sanctuary.

Jonathan McCraken and Lauren Martin, who were on the programme, describe their experiences.
Jonathan McCraken said: "People used to go the memorial garden to remember people they had lost to addiction and suicide. "It used to look nice and bright, but when we saw it, it looked forgotten. We thought it was sad that it had become so overgrown and shabby and voted to spruce it up and make it a sanctuary again.


"We had to raise money to fund whatever community project we did, so we gave up the snacks we were given every week by the Achieve club, and used the money instead to buy materials like wood stain for the benches."

Lauren Martin said: "Our families realised how important the project was to us, and they helped us out, too. My dad even made us a cross to put into the garden.


People were always stopping by to ask us what we were doing and it felt good to be able to talk to them about it and show them the plants we were planting. I never knew I could feel like this. I have never felt more respected in my own community - doing something special for them made us feel part of it. "The garden looks brilliant now; everyone likes it. It's the peaceful, colourful space it was always intended to be."

As regional winners, the project is automatically short-listed for the National Prince’s Trust Awards next year.