COLM McDaid, from Ballintoy, is the CEO of Supporting Communities and was recently awarded the ‘Leading People’ Award from CO3 which followed an earlier Highly Commended Award in 2016 as 'Best Newcomer'.
While home is now the coastal village of Ballintoy where he lives with his partner Siobhán, Colm grew up in Omagh with his parents and siblings where life was not always plain sailing.
Speaking to The Chronicle, the 49-year-old said: “My family moved from Knockmoyle, a small rural hamlet outside Omagh, in 1973 as my older brother Eamonn was diagnosed with a learning difficulty and my parents suddenly found themselves having to move to 'the town' in order to allow Eamonn to attend a special school as there was no transport in those days - even if it was only five miles away.
“We were allocated a 'council' house. Unfortunately the first Housing Executive house we moved into didn’t work out too well as after six months my parents received a threatening note through the door, but on account of Eamonn's 'handicap' we were given a month to move out.
“This was symptomatic of how things were in the early 1970's, and as an emergency, we were allocated another house where we spent the next seven years. I suppose that was where I really got a real sense of 'community' growing up with really supportive families who provided my Mum, Dad, Eamonn and myself with wonderful support.
“They were very happy years for me and it is that period of my youth that provided me with a keen interest in the community work I later developed and am still engrossed in to this day, i.e. empowering communities to strive to improve estates regardless of religion.”
It's clear that Colm has a strong sense of family and values his time with Eamonn, as well as his other brothers Sean and Declan and his sister Agnes.
He said: “I visit Eamonn in Omagh as often as I can and he spends weekends with me in Ballintoy when he can.”
As well as having a very busy day job, Colm and Siobhán now have two grandsons Connláith and Luke who keep their hands full and occupy any spare time they may have!
Colm said he “very much fell into” the housing world after thinking of a career in community and youth. He said it was during his time in first year at UU, Jordanstown, he discovered the field of housing management.
He added: “For me social housing is about several key things: providing housing for those in need; it is very much about community, including sustainable, mixed communities; social housing is also about providing affordable homes which are of a decent quality and standard.”
For the rest of the article see this week's Ballycastle Chronicle