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Alton Towers Reveals Exclusive Images of New Thrill Ride

Credit: Mikael Buck / Alton Towers Copright: © Mikael Buck

Alton Towers Resort has released first-look images of their latest thrill attraction Wicker Man, the first wooden rollercoaster to be built in the UK for 21 years, with the unique thrill of fire. The dramatic images reveal a spectacular six-story (57.7ft) structure, featuring an impressive human face on one side and ram’s head on the other, which bursts into flames as the train races through its chest.

The Hot Facts

Alongside the new images of Wicker Man in all its glory, further details revealed include:

  • The height of the Wicker Man structure is 17.55m (57.57ft)
  • Over 40,000 tonnes of soil has been excavated to build the new attraction
  • Track spans 2,000ft and is made from naturally treated timber, hand-carved specifically for the project
  • Every ride will house 2 trains, each made up of 6 wooden carriages carrying 12 passengers (24 passengers per ride)
  • Alton Towers Resort has invested £16 million into the creation of Wicker Man which has been in development for the last four years
  • Wicker Man will open to the public this Spring

Before boarding Wicker Man, riders will embark on a journey into the world of the Beornen, a secret community living in the woods around Alton. Lured in by chanting, rhythmic sounds and unseen eyes watching them, guests will ‘be chosen’ to take part in the cinematic ‘pre-show’ before braving the ride itself.

Operations Director Comments

Francis Jackson, Operations Director at Alton Towers Resort, commented:

“Wicker Man is Alton Towers’ most ambitious project to date and we’re really excited to finally reveal our newest thrill attraction to the world. We’ve spent four years creating an experience that is truly spectacular by investing in the latest technologies which combine wood, fire and special effects to give riders the genuine feeling that they will be racing though flames. We can’t wait for everyone to experience Wicker Man when the park opens this Spring.”

Keep up to date with the latest Wicker Man news by visiting altontowers.com/Wickerman or searching #WickerManRide across social media. To be one of the first to experience Alton Tower’s newest thrill attraction Wicker Man visit www.altontowers.com to secure your ticket.

Travel & Tourism

Galgorm Collection Goes for gold in New Partnership with NOW Group

Pictured celebrating the announcement are (L-R): Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group, Laura Millar, Group HR Manager at Galgorm Collection, Richard Magowan, Group Staff Engagement Officer Galgorm Collection and Tiarnán O'Neill, Group Finance Director at Galgorm Collection. Photo Credit: Philip Magowan / PressEye

Northern Ireland’s leading hospitality group, Galgorm Collection, today confirmed a new three-year strategic partnership with the NOW Group which will see the first ever Gold Jam Card membership on the island of Ireland awarded to a hospitality partner.

Established in 2000, the NOW Group is a social enterprise focused on supporting people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future. The group’s JAM Card Gold Membership is awarded to businesses that demonstrably place diversity and accessibility at the heart of business.

Through the programme, Galgorm Collection will place its full team through rigorous training to become JAM Card friendly, which means that guests requiring additional time and patience can discretely alert team members and ask for ‘Just A Minute’. It is hoped that the new initiative will help to support guests and visitors with learning difficulties, autism, or communication barriers to experience its full five-star service.

Galgorm Collection has also committed to creating at least five new jobs for people living with autism and enrolled with NOW Group’s employment service. The new jobs cover a range of hospitality roles throughout Galgorm’s collection of properties in Belfast, Ballymena, Crawfordsburn and Templepatrick.

Tiarnán O’Neill, Group Finance Director at Galgorm Collection, said:

“As a responsible business and major local employer, Galgorm Collection is deeply committed to excellence and inclusivity which is firmly embedded within our business. We’re delighted to be the first hospitality partner on the island of Ireland set to achieve Gold Jam Card Membership status and affirm our commitment to supporting our communities.

We continually strive to exceed customer expectations and offer an unforgettable service across our collection of award-winning, luxury hotels and restaurants and I’m delighted that this partnership will enable us to deliver this to all guests.

We’re also thrilled to confirm a new three-year strategic partnership with the NOW Group to really drive our credentials in the area of diversity and inclusion and to provide new employment opportunities to those living with autism or learning difficulties, which we hope to build on throughout the partnership.”

Photo Credit: Philip Magowan / PressEye

Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group, said:

“We are thrilled to confirm Galgorm Collection as our first strategic hospitality partner and to work with the group in achieving Gold JAM Card Membership which represents our top mark for diversity and inclusion.

Since launching the JAM Card initiative in 2012, the scheme has been a resounding success with more than 1,800 organisations across the region participating in the training programme. We’re delighted to now build upon that momentum by announcing a new strategic partnership with Northern Ireland’s leading hospitality group which will take the programme to the next level.

Galgorm Collection is a key strategic partner for us and we’re excited to work closely with the group to deliver upon this new programme. Not only will this partnership create new employment opportunities for our service users, but it will allow Galgorm Collection to lead the hospitality industry in terms of neurodiversity and how it supports vulnerable customers.

We hope that this programme will encourage other organisations across all industries to see the benefits of joining us in committing to support those with visible and hidden disabilities through our JAM Card initiative.” 

In addition to the new jobs created, Galgorm Collection will further support the NOW Group’s social enterprise Loaf Pottery. Located in Crawfordsburn, the café and ceramics shop sits directly opposite Galgorm Collection’s newest venture, The Old Inn, which was acquired by the group earlier this year.

Through the partnership, pottery and ceramics crafted from the shop will be made available for sale across Galgorm Collection’s properties, reaching an expanded customer base and promoting the enterprise to new audiences from near and far.

For more information on the Gold JAM Card Membership or JAM Card Initiative, please visit jamcard.org or nowgroup.org.

For more information on Galgorm Collection’s commitment to communities, please visit galgorm.com/about-us.

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Travel & Tourism

Embrace A Unique Art Experience On Picturesque Farm On The Causeway Coastal Route

Perched just a couple of hundred yards from The Gobbins Cliffs, Audrey Kyle offers a unique art workshop, helping people learn the skills of painting as well as connecting with nature.

Folklore and the landscape of the Islandmagee peninsula, shaped by the sea, offers a stunning backdrop to learn art away from the daily hustle and bustle of modern life.

Audrey Kyle Art operates on a simple premise – learning a new skill in a tranquil setting.

It is a concept Audrey developed after re-discovering her affinity for painting.

“I had been working in the corporate world in HR, but eight years ago I took a change in direction and haven’t looked back,” she explained. “I began painting, started to get commissions and my new career started from there”

Audrey opened the Gobbins Studios to showcase her own work, but has since opened the studios for classes.

This Saturday August 1 from 12pm – 4pm, Audrey will be hosting an open studio where she will be displaying some brand new pieces that incorporate organic materials.

“What is offered is quite different to what other art classes offer,” she said. “As well as learning the skills of watercolours it is very much aimed at creating a relaxing, mindful experience.”

It also helps that the studio is part of a working farm with a livery stable and a flock of 50 Suffolk ewes.

“Where we are situated means we have a stunning landscape and an active farm,” Audrey said.

“There are so many aspects that can be drawn upon. And, as it changes through the seasons it offers many different inspirations.

“For example, in the summertime we do watercolour workshops and experience days where the people that visit can go for a walk through the meadow and through the woodland, we collect wild grasses and wildflowers and then they come back to the studio and paint them.”

Most classes last for three hours and can accommodate up to six people. However, there are also special summer sessions.

“In summer I host experience days, which last for five hours including lunch, and woodland and cliff top walk along with the watercolour practice.

“This enables the folklore to be incorporated to build experiences of the folklore of Ireland and really embrace the spirit of this remarkable area.”

Art Fans are welcome to join Audrey Saturday August 1 at The Gobbins Studio from 12 pm- 4 pm to view some of the artist’s latest work.

You can find out more and book classes at audreykyleart.com or contact Audrey directly on 07712464966

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