Sion Mills Buildings Preservation Trust (registered Charity No: NICC103552) has already raised and paid £16,500 towards the cost of publishing by the Ulster Historical Foundation of the forthcoming book written by DrJonathon Hamill PhD, (who generously donated his time) commemorating the remarkable Herdman family of Sion Mills, Co Tyrone. This project was undertaken to help justify the aspiration of SMBPT for Sion to be a UNESCO World Heritage site, and also as a means of addressing the Trust's charitable purposes which include, not only the care of the legacy the Herdmans left by way of built heritage, but also educating the public on the history of the village, both the important built heritage and the intangible social heritage, and to help people understand the significance of it, specifically the spirit of the founders, James, John and George Herdman who believed in social and religious integration and equality, education, clean air and a good standard of living, welfare and the best possible sport and recreational facilities for 'their people'. Above all they believed that life was for living to the full and should be fun for everybody and devised all sorts of distractions and entertainments to ensure it. There is a lesson to be learned for other communities.
- The book as a vehicle for putting the family archives in the public eye, is not only informative and interesting, but also sets a role model that could lay the foundation for future peace and tranquillity anywhere.
- I call the early Herdmans 'constructive revolutionaries' and they did not confine their selfless work of major job creation to Tyrone and Donegal.
- During the Great Famine, from 1845 to1849 they employed 600 people in Belfast; 600 in Sion and several hundred more in Armagh, many of whom might otherwise have died.
- Apart from fulfilling the purposes of the trust, the book sales will help the trust achieve the public benefit which justifies its charitable status.
- The original costs have risen considerably with the increased content of the book, due to the immense amount of archives, journals, diaries, newspapers and family letters which are being catalogued and assessed at the moment in terms of content and importance by an expert who is reputedly the best in the world at this. Hopefully your generous donations may cover the cost of this too and ensure that we have enough to match-fund whatever we apply for in grants.
The book will be launched on 27 September 2016 and is with the publishers for final content and design issues prior to printing, so your donation is needed urgently, and any extra funding over and above will firstly be used to pay the archivist's modest fee and then to support the Trust in their battle to save Sion Mills and make it a major tourism hub. This will lead to job creation where there has been none since the closure of the Mill in 2004 with 600 redundancies over 3 years.
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