The Isle of Man’s strong sense of community spirit remains a consistently important aspect of Island life, but the phenomenal success of the Northern Lights Community Centre may turn out to be a catalyst for similar centres to be opened within the communities of Peel and Port Erin in the future.
Situated close to the heart of Ramsey’s retail sector on Bowring Road (opposite Shoprite car park) this new venture is the brainchild of Natalie and Sam Jenkins, and aims to provide a venue where all members of the community can relax and share their experiences in a safe and comfortable environment.
To accommodate the rapid increase in demand for this new facility Natalie and Sam have extended their trading hours, with the premises now open from Tuesday to Sunday until late in the evening (see their website for further details).
The Northern Lights Community Centre is a mine of activity, and was inspired by Natalie’s dad, the late Philip Maddrell of Peel who motivated many of today’s Manx musicians, and aims to reflect the desires of the community it serves.
Established as a registered Manx charity, the ground floor of the centre has become a popular meeting place for shoppers and friends to gather over a frothing Latte, a lip-smacking Cream Tea, or perhaps a hot, buttered jacket potato, from a menu that has now been extended to offer a greater range of food and drink (organic where possible) including catering for the requirements of both vegans and vegetarians. And there’s no need to worry about keeping an eye on those little people who have their own special play area to enjoy.
But this deceptively spacious building will offer a venue for ‘plug and play’ rehearsals when phase two has been completed, a fully equipped recording studio and space for a whole variety of workshops exploring all aspects of music and creative arts, accommodating a gallery space for exhibitions and providing a position for an artist in residence.
Recent additions to the centre include film nights on Sunday evenings, popular ‘open-mic’ sessions on Friday and Saturday nights, and a weekly Farmers’ Market held each Saturday morning.
Despite its early success the Northern Lights Community Centre currently relies on the generosity of fundraising and donations and any offers of help and assistance will be gratefully accepted, whether it be time, running of workshops, equipment, labour, supplies, funding or simply advice. Natalie and Sam have also introduced an innovative ‘time exchange scheme’ which lets volunteers recoup their time at the centre by offering free availability of workshops, recording sessions and rehearsal studios
Natalie and Sam envisage the Northern Lights Community Centre as being a centre of activity, learning, growth and hospitality and have shown what can be achieved with a little thought, understanding and plenty of good friends!
© June 2012
(Courtesy of Manx Tails)