FERMANAGH’S new High Sheriff says she hopes to enhance the county’s arts and culture scene.
Noelle McAlinden was last week appointed to the role – which she described as being “very humbling”.
The role itself involves being Fermanagh’s representative should any heads of state or members of the Royal Family visit the county.
However, Noelle – who worked as a teacher prior to taking early retirement and is also involved with the Lakeland Players drama group – is keen to do what she can for local arts and education and hopes to use her own artistic background to good use in her new position.
She said: “I’m originally from Co. Armagh but I’ve been living in Fermanagh since 1983. My background is in arts, education and community.
“I’ve been proactive in supporting artists but I also have a huge interest in community and voluntary service as well. I am dedicated to the area of unlocking creativity and self-expression.
“We would have been involved in the recent event (‘Hope, Healing, Growth’ Conference) at the Aisling Centre. I have sat on a number of boards of directors over the years such as the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, BBC Children In Need, the Royal Ulster Academy and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Arts and Culture Committee.
“I was also the creative adviser for the Derry City of Culture for 2013. I’ve worked not just across Northern Ireland but across the island of Ireland in promoting arts, culture and human rights.
“Having been involved in education all my life, I recognise that we’re all life-long learners.”
Noelle also aims to use her role to promote good health and well-being.
She added: “I am a cancer survivor and have been cancer-free now for over six years. Also, like many families, we’ve been bereaved by suicide so I am dedicated to the celebration of life so the whole area of mental health and well-being is very important to me.
“I’m also very aware of the importance of our local services – especially our health service and the excellent work being done by ‘Save Our SWAH’.
“I would think that I could lend my support in that as well as the arts and culture.”
Noelle is delighted to represent Fermanagh in her new capacity and insists she will be a Sheriff for all.
“Fermanagh is a very special part of the world,” she said. “It’s beautiful, it’s culturally active, the county has so many beautiful physical assets such as the waterways and I couldn’t have been asked to represent a better county.
“While I’ve been brought up a Catholic, my parents brought me up to have compassion for all of our neighbours. Catholics and Protestants working together and supporting each other.
“I’m not defined by religion – it’s more to do with being compassionate towards others.”
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