Jason Lamont, Cookstown is one of hundreds of athletes putting themselves through their final paces in preparation for the Dwarf World Games, taking place in Belfast from Monday 27th July – Monday 2nd August 2009.

Jason, 19 years old, is a member of the DAA NI (Dwarf Athletic Association of Northern Ireland), which after organising the hugely successful Belfast City European and Open Championships in 2006 secured the bid to bring the World Games to Belfast.   Since then preparations have been in full force to stage one of the world’s most unique sporting events.   More than 200 athletes of restricted growth, from 15 countries, will take part in nine sports with competitions taking place at the Mary Peters Track in south Belfast, Larne Leisure Centre and the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus.

Jason has previously participated in the DAA UK National Championships but never in the European or World Games so he will be hoping to give a strong performance in his first major tournament when he competes in the team sports – football and basketball.

Eugene McVeigh, Chairperson of the DAA NI said,

“Jason is really looking forward to the Games and I’m confident he will be a strong contender for picking up a few medals throughout the week.  He’s one of ten athletes from Northern Ireland taking part and they’re all very excited to be a part of such a huge event, and I’m sure they, along with all the other athletes will enjoy themselves at whatever level they are competing at.

We are honoured to be hosting such a prestigious event, the success of the Belfast City European and Open Championships in 2006 inspired us to bid to host a larger, more competitive and more spectacular event and hopefully over the course of the week everyone involved will get to experience this.”

The first Dwarf World Games were held in Chicago, USA, in 1993.  England, Canada and France subsequently have held the Games, in 1997, 2001 and 2005 respectively.

The 2009 Dwarf World Games are sponsored by Belfast City Council, the Department for Culture Arts and Leisure, and Sport Northern Ireland, and supported by Disability Sports NI.  Premier Inn is the official accommodation provider for the Games.

For more information on the Dwarf World Games, Belfast go to www.daani.org

Family doctors in Northern Ireland today (Friday 17 July) moved to allay fears over the swine flu virus.

Larne GP Brian Dunn, Chairman of the BMA’s GP committee said, “It is understandable that people will be worried when they hear about the potential number of fatalities that may arise due to the pandemic. It should be remembered that these are worst case scenarios to enable government to plan.

“We urge everyone to follow the recommended advice and telephone their doctor, rather than physically going to the surgery if they have symptoms and are concerned.

“In most cases, it will be a mild illness and the vast majority of people will recover quickly by taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, and drinking plenty of fluids. Anyone who is not recovering quickly or who is in a more vulnerable group, for example young children, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions, should get extra advice as a small number will need more intensive treatment”.

Tom Black, a GP in Londonderry added,
“The message we need to get across is it’s a pandemic flu – this is new, we haven’t seen this before and yes, most of us will probably catch it.

“We must remember that every year there are deaths from complications of seasonal flu; this is unfortunately inevitable with any strain of influenza, but following the recommended advice will minimise the risk.”

Simple but effective hygiene measures such as frequent hand-washing can also help. Remember to cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, the put the tissue into a bin – catch it, bin it, kill it!”

The GAA has confirmed that in accordance with rule the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship relegation play offs will take place on the weekend of Saturday July 25.

Wexford will play Clare and Antrim face Offaly before the two losing teams play off to determine who will be relegated.

Match arrangements will be finalised by the CCCC on Monday.

Survey uncovers hearing loss as a cause of breakdown in relationships in Northern Ireland RELATIONSHIPS throughout Northern Ireland are failing because of unmanaged hearing loss, according to a survey commissioned by Specsavers hearing centres.The survey, of over 55-year-olds with hearing loss in the area, has revealed that:    * Half (50%) have found that relationships with their partner or friends and family have suffered as a result of having a hearing loss, and a third (33%) have lost touch with people because of this    * Two thirds (68%) of people find their hearing loss affects their ability to take part in conversations with friends and family, and almost half (47%) feel left out and ignored because of this    * More than half (57%) agreed that if their hearing improved this would improved relationships with friends and family    * Almost half (41%) think that losing their hearing is the worst thing about getting oldActress and lifelong hearing loss sufferer Stephanie Beacham, who has been completely deaf in one ear since birth, says: ‘This research doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Having a hearing issue is extremely frustrating and socially isolating. It’s so boring having a conversation that neither person can engage in properly, shouting louder and straining to hear is not good. ‘I can see exactly why relationships breakdown and it is so sad to think that a loving couple can go through life happily together and then, because of hearing loss, the effect on their relationship can be unnecessarily devastating.’Stephanie continues: ’No one should suffer in silence. Whether it is you, a partner or friend with hearing loss, the main obstacle we have to overcome is the stigma. Like many other conditions, hearing problems can be managed in most cases with hearing aids, however, the first crucial step is to have a hearing test.’The survey, commissioned by Specsavers hearing centres, was conducted online by onepoll.com and face-to-face at the Pensioners Parliament, held by the National Pensioners Convention in Blackpool last month. When questioned, respondents said that the social exclusion they experienced as a result of their hearing loss left them feeling depressed, anti-social and with no self worth.The survey also revealed that more than half (53%) agreed that an improvement in their hearing would make relationships between them and their family and friends more harmonious.Specsavers hearing aid audiologist, Colin Campbell, says: ‘As we get older, our hearing can naturally deteriorate. Very often, this kind of hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids, which can transform the lives of people who have lived with their hearing loss for years.‘Let’s not forgot younger people – increasing numbers of them are suffering from hearing loss as a consequence of modern day life, such as listening to loud music, living in noisy environments and generally exposing their ears to sounds levels that they were not designed to hear.’Stephanie is working with Specsavers hearing centres to find a deaf or hard of hearing hero in the first Sound Barrier Star awards. Recognising achievement or courage in the deaf or hard of hearing, Specsavers will donate £5 for every nomination received to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.Specsavers offers free hearing tests at more than 400 stores across the UK. To book an appointment or for more information please call 0808 143 1143 or visit www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing.

-‘Holiday At Home’ under scrutiny thanks to Williamson family-With the strong euro and prospect of a hot summer ahead, Translink and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) are joining forces to put the traditional family holiday to the test – forget the two week get-away abroad, it’s all about getting more for you money and your time… in Northern Ireland!Throughout July and August, Translink and NITB are challenging a local family, the Williamsons from East Belfast, to forego their vacation abroad and instead opt for a series of day trips in order to ‘holiday at home’, using public transport. Making use of Translink’s summer packages, including Super Summer Savers – illustrated in the form of a map of NI and available from all NI bus and rail stations or at www.translink.co.uk – the Williamsons will be plotting different day trips around NI stopping in at the Ulster American Folk Park as part of their day trip to the beautiful county of Omagh later this month.The aim of the challenge, which will see the family travelling some 703 miles around NI, is to show the public that NI can be the location for a truly successful family summer holiday, with the emphasis on fun, relaxation, visiting new places, trying new activities and spending as much time as possible with loved ones – all of which can be affordably achieved using public transport.Translink’s Communications Manager, Lynda Shannon, explains why they created the challenge:“With many pressures on the home budget many families are having to re-think their typical summer holiday. Translink wants to show that you don’t have to go abroad or spend a fortune to get the most out of your summer holidays, instead of relying on just one or two weeks abroad, the aim for families should be to spread out their budget – and the holiday feeling – throughout the long school holidays. “We are delighted the Williamson family have agreed to take up our challenge. At the end of each day trip they will be penning a travel guide to give advice and ideas to other families. These will be available on the Translink and NITB websites. The reality is you don’t have to get on a plane to have a holiday full of culture, adventure and discovery, it’s all on your doorstep and we have a range of great value tickets to get you there.”A family of two adults, which can include any two adult friends / relatives, and up to four children can enjoy unlimited bus and rail travel in NI over the course of one day for just £18.50. While in Belfast, the Williamsons will be using the Metro Family Day Ticket which will allow them to travel anywhere in Belfast on the Metro network over the course of a day. Along with great value travel, discounts of up to 15% can be had at a number of attractions and destinations throughout NI by simply showing your bus or rail ticket. Spokesmum, Grace Williamson said: “We have always enjoyed the typical two week summer holiday abroad but in these belt tightening times we decided it was worth seeing what Northern Ireland has to offer a family on a budget this year. We don’t really know what to expect but are really excited about what lies ahead of us! My family come from Omagh so the Ulster American Folk Park day is one of the trips I am most looking forward to.”Destination Marketing Manager at NITB Jonathan Smyth said;‘’From exploring the City walls of Londonderry, watching the Tall Ships in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter through to exploring the Mountains of Mourne, we want to communicate that Northern Ireland is a truly unique destination to holiday, packed full of world class attractions and hidden gems. With the Williamsons setting such a great example, we are encouraging people to do the same and invest in a staycation this year in order to discover some of the amazing sights that make this such a special place.”For information on Translink timetables, fares and Summer offers log on to www.translink.co.uk or phone the call centre on 028 9066 6630.To keep up to speed with the Williamson’s holiday around NI this summer log on to www.translink.co.uk/summer

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster welcomed 100 international delegates to the Imperial Orange Council of the World triennial meeting in Belfast, today. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland hosted the meeting which saw delegates travelling from as far afield as New Zealand, Ghana, Togo and Canada.The meeting takes place in a different country every three years and this year Northern Ireland was selected. Welcoming the Council, the Minister said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the international delegates to experience our tourism offering and hopefully, take time to visit some of our world class visitor attractions. “Today’s meeting is proof that we have world class conference facilities and that we can compete with the best venues across the globe.” The Minister also commended the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland for their ongoing engagement with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and Tourism Ireland.

Statistics released by ICC Formations reveal that there was a 20% drop in the number of New Business Start Ups in Quarter 2 2009 compared to Quarter 2 2008. With the exception of ‘Telecommunications’ and ‘Electricity, Gas & Water’ all sectors saw a decrease in the number of companies being formed.‘’Replicating the trend from Quarter 1, the housing sector continues to be the hardest hit with ‘Real Estate and Renting’ and ‘Construction’ once again showing the biggest decreases of 57.5% and 35.5% respectively. In total 402 fewer companies were formed in these sectors in Quarter 2 2009 compared to Quarter 2 2008’’ explained Head of Professional Services at ICC Formations, Jon RockIn total there were 826 fewer companies formed in the Republic of Ireland in Quarter 2 2009 compared to Quarter 2 2008. ‘’Not surprisingly, the biggest drop was in Leinster with 517 fewer companies formed here – Dublin alone accounted for 326 of these. There was a drop of 17% in Munster and 24% in Connacht and whilst Ulster saw the biggest % drop of 40.9% this was with relatively low numbers’’‘’However, it was not all bad news, as some Counties did see an increase in the number of Companies formed. Tipperary saw an increase of 32.5% with 25 more companies formed here than in Quarter 2 last year. Wicklow also had a small increase of 8.5%, whilst the figures for Kilkenny remained fairly static.’’ Concluded Rock.

July 2009
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