The late, great WC Fields said, “Never work with children or animals.” The celebrated comedian must’ve been turning in his grave on seeing his advice so completely disregarded and so thoroughly disproved at the Derry and Raphoe Mothers’ Union’s Family Fun Day in Limavady on Saturday.
The event - which took place in splendid sunshine - was a resounding success, from first registration through to the closing Service, and, in between, it may not have constituted a miracle, but the organisers still managed to pull off a feeding of the 500. That was the number of children and adults – from two dozen different parishes – who descended on Roe Valley Leisure Centre for a fun-filled day.
Young and old were not to be disappointed. A packed programme of activities had been arranged – all overseen by MU volunteers from across the dioceses. These included arts and crafts, an adventure play area, bouncy castles, swimming and sports. There was a puppet show, too, and entertainment by Mr Tumble and Buddy the Clown; but the highlight, for many, was Casey’s Creatures – a half-hour show which brought children and adults up close and personal with a variety of creatures, including a boa constrictor, an eagle owl and a racoon dog.
The Diocesan President of Mothers’ Union, Mrs Mary Good, declared herself well-pleased with how the day had gone. “We didn’t get a single negative comment,” she explained, “everyone stayed safe and we were even blessed with glorious sunshine.”
The Family Fun Day had been months in the planning – and it showed – with every element of the programme beginning and ending on time. Participants were divided into eight different groups and encouraged to follow a rota that staggered activities and factored in the all-important lunch break - a moveable feast of sorts.
The BBQ team turned out fifty burgers every ten minutes during their frenetic two-hour shift, and there was nourishment of a spiritual kind as the day closed with a Service led by Rev Canon Harold Given, Rector of Tamlaghtfinlagan and Myroe Parishes. Canon Given was assisted by the Diocesan Children’s Officer, Kirsty Lynch, who led the youngsters in hymn-singing.
It was ‘all hands to the pump’ throughout the day as MU volunteers oversaw activities. In her closing remarks, Mrs Good thanked her fellow Mothers’ Union members for their tremendous contribution to a hugely successful day. “The Mothers’ Union is a Church of Ireland organisation,” she explained, “whose main focus is to support children and families. Whatever family means to you, the Church is here to say, ‘We love you and we support you.’ Watch out in your parish church for anything to do with Mothers’ Union because it’s all about children and families and supporting mums and dads, and that’s what today’s Family Fun Day was all about. It was to let you know that the Mothers’ Union loves each and every one of you.”
The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, presented prizes to children who had won competitions organised by MU and run by Sunday School teachers. The Bishop congratulated all who had made the day a success and singled out two people for particular mention: Jennifer Given (Vice-President in charge of the MU’s Action and Outreach Unit) and Anita Hill, who is the Young Members’ representative.
As participants left for home, there was a ‘goody bag’ for each child who had taken part and information about the MU for all adults.