Recovery Cafe hits the right note with judges

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Local woman Sheila Smyth, founder of the Recovery café, and Chief Executive of The Right Key in Dromore, is celebrating after winning a special award at the All Ireland Pride of Place award.

The Right Key was established in 2012, and uses music for health, healing and recovery.

Last year they established The Recovery Café in Dromore, which gathers people from Dromore, Lisburn, Banbridge, Armagh and Newry, who are in a recovery process.

They were nominated by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council for the award.

Competition was high, but the judges, who spent a day at The Recovery Café, were greatly impressed with the work there, and by the performance that they heard from the Voice of Recovery singers, who are in a recovery process from alcohol addiction.

“The judges spent a day at our building, and it really was a lovely afternoon,” explained Sheila. “A written and vocal presentation were given, followed by a moving performance by those who had previously suffered from addiction, but who are now sober and clean from drugs.

“A performance of songs and poetry was presented, that demonstrated the struggle they had come through, but also the extent of their recovery.

“It was deeply moving, and the judges gave the group a standing ovation.

“This year we have added a food and clothes bank to our premises, and a woodworking shed, where those in a recovery process, will be making musical instruments.

“We are also initiating a craft area where people will be able to buy hand made crafts from our skilful artists. Our performances and concerts have been numerous, including the all Ireland Nursing conference in the Titanic Building, as our musical voice continues to educate, encourage and challenge stigma.

Right Key Board member Sharon Brown, who joined Sheila at the awards ceremony, said: “It was really inspirational to hear the great work that is being done by Community Groups throughout the whole Island of Ireland. No-one knew who the winners would be, until their name was called, so it was quite an emotional roller-coaster.

“We were, of course, ecstatic when we won a special Award, and to bring it back to Dromore on behalf of our Council. We were never the kind of people who looked for recognition or reward, mostly we have just put our heads down, pushed forward, and got on with the work, so this really was a special moment for us.”