THE closing meeting of Ballywillan Men’s Fellowship took place on Thursday last week when members and friends enjoyed lunch at the Royal Court Hotel, Portrush.
The previous Thursday, the final presentation of the current session of the Fellowship took place in Ballywillan Presbyterian Church Hall when members were able to view the classic television production “And the Desert Shall Rejoice”.
It was introduced by former television producer and presenter John Johnston, who is a member of the Fellowship and who had made the film for the BBC in 1984.
It tells the remarkable story of how the firm of Mastock, led by Mr. Alastair McGuckian, undertook the incredible task of creating one of the world’s largest dairy and crop farms in the desert of Saudi Arabia.
Finance and water were the two main factors underpinning the pioneering project, which involved pumping and then processing water drawn from far beneath the desert. The finance came from the fabulously wealthy royal families of the region.
The Mastock team undertaking the scheme came from all over Ireland and often had to work in temperatures of 120 degrees. Despite working initially in pure sand they managed to produce up to six tons of grain per hectare.
The huge herds of cows, which eventually grew to more than 14,000 animals, had to be frequently sprayed with water in order to keep their temperatures down!
After the screening of the film, Mr. Johnston spoke on some of the problems encountered during the making of the film in a country where strict religious laws had to be observed in order not to offend.
Thanks to Mr. Johnston were extended by Dr. Michael Gardiner, who went on to thank all involved with the smooth running of the Fellowship during the year.
Meetings of the Fellowship will resume on Thursday, September 14.