EXCITEMENT is building ahead of this year’s COVID-delayed May Day Steam Rally which returns to the picturesque grounds of Shane’s Castle on August 28-29.
Yes, some compromises will have to be made in terms of numbers - but the organisers are confident that they will still deliver a memorable celebration of steam.
And that is good news for the legions of locals looking for some old-fashioned family fun - and also for a vital service which has made a huge difference to hundreds of people across the province.
Rally organisers confirmed this week that they are ‘delighted’ to confirm that Air Ambulance Northern Ireland will be its main charity for the event.
The charity, together with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, provides the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service for Northern Ireland 365 days of the year.
The charity will be represented at the event by the Osborne family. Their son Simon Osborne was involved in a serious road traffic collision resulting in life changing injuries.
“I know that without the services of the Air Ambulance and the medical team, I just wouldn’t have made the same recovery,” said Simon.
“I’m so grateful. It’s a fantastic charity. My family and I will have a merchandise stand at the event and collectors around the grounds with buckets for donations.
“We all encourage visitors of the show to donate what you can to keep the air ambulance flying. You never know when you might need it.”
Rally directors, Ian Duff and Matthew Hull visited the charity airbase to learn a little about the HEMS service.
“We all appreciate what the air ambulance does for our community and our visit today has enlightened us how the team are tasked and the genuine difference they make at the scene of a serious incident,” said Ian.
“It’s very much about the hospital coming direct to you.
“We are delighted the Rally is able to go ahead and know the fundraising for Air Ambulance NI could save a life.”
Matthew Hull added: “The Rally really offers something for young and old.
“There will be hundreds of steam and vintage engines on display and in action, a huge fairground, craft fair, mobile open farms, and great food and drink.
“There will also be the Hugo Duncan Roadshow and the Trialstar Motorcycle Stunt Team there both days, timing are 10am to 5pm each day and we encourage everyone to buy their tickets in advance if possible.”
With only weeks to pull the event together, the Rally organisers are working round the clock to ensure a great event in a year when nobody has had much to look forward to.
Rally director Walter McNeill said it has been full steam ahead since they were finally given the green light.
“We are delighted to get the go ahead to run the Rally and we already have a great line-up of exhibits confirmed,” said the Antrim man.
“To comply with COVID guidelines, we are selling tickets in advance with forms available on our website.
“Although a number of tickets will also be available at the gate, within the restricted number of visitors we have been allowed, our best advice to is book your ticket as soon as possible in order to ensure your admission to the Rally.”
The Shane’s Castle May Day is sponsored by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Tourism Northern Ireland.
For further information and early booking visit www.shanescastlesteamrally.co.uk or facebook.com/ShanesCastleSteam