A local theater group in south Belfast turned their weekly get-together into a celebration following member James Martin’s success at the Oscars.
The An Irish Goodbye star is the first person with Down Syndrome to win an Academy Awards.
While Martin was partying in LA, the Babosh drama group also toasted his success when he played an estranged brother in the production, which won Best Live-Action Short.
He started out at Babosh, a drama group for adults with learning disabilities that meets every Monday night.
Group coordinator Frances Nelson said Martin was given a profile, which is really important to show people he can talk and act and is “just as good as everyone else”.
She said she hoped his success would pave the way for others to shine as well, adding, “I think there are quite a few other Jameses out there.”
“If someone in your group wins an Oscar, I think it deserves a slightly different evening, so we toasted James to congratulate him,” Ms Nelson told the PA news agency.
“It’s been inspiring to see James so good, genuinely and honestly, like all the members, he’s committed, he’s loyal, he comes every week, he’s resilient and strong and he wants to develop his skills, he’s a part of that team and he values the group and the friendship within the group.
“The difference is James had the opportunity, he’s successful now and everyone in the group just loves that James was successful and he really represents success to them and they love him even more for that.”
Ms Nelson said the group primarily works on communication and language with members, using tongue twisters for clarity of expression as well as movement.
“James’ success shows that if you work and make an effort, anything can happen,” she said.
“Babosh did a little Disney article recently and one of the things I used in that was that your dreams really can come true and this is a dream and it really did come true.
“I think this whole notion that if you work hard, if you have a strong work ethic, which James has, and if other people give you an opportunity, there has to be the right piece, and James has a piece that’s written was made for him and is beautiful.
“He did a wonderful job in it and I think from that perspective it enables others to achieve something, but most importantly the group is just happy for James personally as a friend and as someone to go to the theater with. “