A Rocha UK’s Partners in Action network continues to expand in numbers, diversity and activity. In February, it celebrated two new ‘firsts’ in the same new partner – our first in Northern Ireland, and our first from the Catholic community. We welcome the Drumalis Centre, near Larne, to the growing PIA network. Following swiftly on Ashburnham Place in Sussex joining the network in January, the network now has 13 members including A Rocha UK through it’s conservation work at our two nature reserve sites.
Drumalis, a retreat and conference centre run by a community, launched their partnership with A Rocha UK at their spring conference where our Head of Conservation, Andy Lester made a keynote speech. The conference was attended by members of the government of Northern Ireland and Belfast Council, representatives from the local farming community, and church leaders from both Northern Ireland and the Republic, including sisters from several convents. Drumalis is the first Catholic order to embark on an environmental project or partnership of this kind and it was a delight to see the interest and support from so many people from all over Ireland at this event.
Drumalis’ project plans include setting up a walking trail for guests to explore their lovely grounds, identifying areas to turn over to wildflower meadow for insects and pollinators, setting up bird feeding stations and house martin nest boxes. The year 2020 also marks 200 years since the founder of the Order of the Cross and Passion, Elizabeth Prout was born. In special memory, Drumalis has committed to planting 200 trees on its estate. These trees will be thoughtfully selected and planted to benefit biodiversity on site and will be a point of interest to encourage guests into the grounds.