A stunning new book celebrating the North Coast and its amazing local talent was launched on Saturday in Coleraine.
‘A View of the Causeway’ is a hardback coffee table book with 125 beautiful and poignant images of the wonderful Causeway Coast and Glens area which has been dedicated to the memory of Paul Murray, a much loved nurse practitioner who sadly passed away suddenly, aged 50, from cardiomyopathy.
All the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine where Paul nursed.
Friends, family, colleagues, contributors and MLAs came together on Saturday to pay tribute to Paul, winner of this year’s Royal College of Nursing Patient’s Choice Award.
‘A View of the Causeway’ is the brainchild of Coleraine art teacher Michelle McGarvey who developed the idea during lockdown.
“I was so inspired by the creativity being shown by so many people during lockdown,” explained Michelle. “As an art teacher I see it every day in the classroom.
“I saw that people were getting benefit from picking up a camera or a paint brush and connecting with our wonderful area of natural beauty and I thought there are so many ways people can connect through creativity and that’s where I got the idea for the book.”
Following the sad passing of Paul in February this year, Michelle, a family friend, decided to use the book to raise money for Causeway Hospital and the hard work of seeking submissions, finding a graphic designer and publisher began.
“Paul was such a wonderful man and nurse practitioner this was a way to raise funds to buy equipment in his memory. He also loved to pick up a camera and the photographs on the front and back cover of the book are Paul’s.”
When Michelle put out a call in April asking for submissions from residents of the Causeway Coast, little did she think she would be inundated with amazing lockdown images.
“It was absolutely incredible,” said the Loreto College teacher. “I knew I would get some responses because we have so many creative people living in this wonderful area but I didn’t foresee the volume of fantastic images.
“I also didn’t anticipate what happened next, I had local businesses offering to sponsor it, I had stockists ordering copies of the book to sell.
“I had Sarah Rooney who worked in publishing in London for 10 years offering to help, Leisa Duffy, White Arc Design, phoned and said ‘I’ve put together a few books. Do you want some help?’ I really needed her help, she has been amazing.
“Pauline Robinson offered her help with the administration, Impact Printing in Ballycastle printed the book and Simon Colquhoun, manager at Moores of Coleraine and the White House, Portrush, has been invaluable. Everything about the book is local.
“Then a gentleman contacted me, he wanted to remain anonymous, he said he would further fund it and at that stage I didn’t know how I was going to fund it.
“Local businesses who came on board to sponsor the book were Bensons, Chill Foodhall, North Coast World Earth, my school Loreto College and then we had three men – Paul Cunning, Peter White and John McGrath who cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats.”
After the closing date, Michelle and her team had the inevitable task of making the final cut of images to be used in the book.
“It was tough because we had so many entries,” said Michelle. “We were delighted to have Paul’s wife Leanne join us to choose the images for the book.”
With a full house for the launch, friends, guests and contributors were eager to get their hands on a copy and in no time books were flying off the shelves with Moores almost sold out in a matter of hours.
“It was a bit like organising your own birthday party when you wonder if anyone will turn up,” said Michelle. “I’m so pleased and I am delighted at everybody’s response to the book.”
Sarah Travers joined MLAs Cara Hunter and Claire Sugden to congratulate Michelle on what has proved to be a true community coming together to celebrate the Causeway Coast and to remember Paul Murray.
Paul’s wife Leanne said: “Thank you for your support in buying this book. In doing so 100 per ent of all the proceeds will go to our local Causeway Hospital and its devoted staff.
“Paul believed deeply in the amazing work and care that all staff provide for their patients and in the North Coast.
“He also loved the beautiful area in which we live and often captured it through his photography. This book is a celebration of both.”
Following the launch, Claire Sugden MLA said: “This book is a love letter to the North Coast capturing what many of us cherish about our beautiful home in Northern Ireland. The heart of the book is the local people whose art is featured.
“Importantly, the book is in memory of Paul Murray with 100 per cent of proceeds going to Causeway Hospital where Paul worked tirelessly and was dearly thought of by his patients and those he worked with.
“Having spent much time in Causeway these past months and seen how devoted staff are in their role, I warmly encourage you to buy this book or two – one for you and the other as a Christmas present.”
Cara Hunter MLA added: “So delighted for Michelle Mcgarvey and the whole team behind ‘A View of the Causeway’. The beautiful images and animations from the local community bring the Causeway to life.
“It was such a lovely launch event celebrating the memory of Paul Murray, a devoted Causeway nurse for over 25 years.”
A View of the Causeway costs £19.99 and is available from: Moores of Coleraine; Stone Row Artisans, Coleraine; The White House, Portrush; Roughans, Portstewart; Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart; The Designerie, Bushmills and The Puffin Gallery of Art, High Crafts and Jewellery, Ballycastle.