Economy Minister Diane Dodds today officially opened Southern Regional College’s new £35million campus in Armagh.
The project, fully funded by the Department for the Economy, involved demolition of the old building and construction of a new, purpose-built facility on the existing Lonsdale Road site.
Speaking after performing the official opening, Minister Dodds said: “I am delighted to see these hugely impressive student facilities which have been fitted out with the very latest technology and equipment. Students and staff will be rightly proud to be part of this transformative project and I commend the college and contractors for achieving such a fantastic outcome.
“I am particularly pleased that this investment has strengthened the college’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics provision in line with current and future economic and employer needs, both locally and regionally.
“My 10X Economy economic vision sets out how we will prepare a future generation of workers to respond flexibly to skills shortages and drive economic growth and Northern Ireland’s further education colleges have an important role to play in rebuilding our economy and investing in skills is key to Northern Ireland’s future success.”
The new campus, designed by Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects Ltd, managed by Tetra Tech Consulting NI and built by Newry-based contractor Felix O’Hare Ltd, saw the creation of more than 200 jobs during its construction.
The college’s Project Team was supported by the Project Board and SRC’s Board of Governors. This, alongside the work of the design and construction teams, resulted in the new campus being delivered within budget and ahead of the projected programme.
Already a national and international success, the new Armagh campus was recognised during its construction as the Initiative of the Year at the UK-wide Government Opportunities Excellence in Public Procurement Awards. The project also secured the global New Engineering Contract Client of the Year Award at a ceremony in London.
Encompassing 14,000 square metres of specialist accommodation across several curriculum areas, the new campus has been designed to facilitate a major uplift in the provision of professional and technical education and training for a new generation.
Project Based Learning student innovation space covering 1,000 square metres is a key feature in the design of the new build enabling students to engage with business and industry in a range of industry related projects and challenges.
During her visit, the Minister met with the college’s staff and students including Marie Campbell who has worked at the college for over 40 years.
Southern Regional College Chief Executive, Brian Doran, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Minister and her officials here today to officially declare our Armagh Campus open. This £35million investment represents a game-changing moment for Southern Regional College and the wider Armagh area, providing an enhanced and compelling learning offer for all while supporting business, enterprise and local and regional economic recovery.
“This landmark campus also provides innovation hubs through which students will directly engage with business and industry in real life projects. This unique platform will provide our students with the opportunity to significantly harness their capability, focus on investment and stimulate enterprise. These new commercially focused hubs will provide a natural fit for local businesses keen to benefit from the availability of these student collaborative opportunities.”
Minister Dodds opened SRC’s new £15million campus in Banbridge earlier this month.
South Lake Leisure Centre ‘Go Award’ Winner!
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough (ABC) Council together with Farrans have recently scooped a prestigious ‘Go Award’ for the brand new, state-of-the-art South Lake Leisure Centre build.
Taking place virtually on 27 May 2021, the Government Opportunities (GO) Excellence in Public Procurement Northern Ireland Awards recognise innovative public procurement practices within local and central government as well as the private sector.
Bagging the Social Value Award for its contribution to the local area, the South Lake Leisure Centre project helped bring together over 10,000 individuals to take part in progressive education and employment programmes during its construction.
With a shared vision to leave a lasting legacy, the collaborative initiative focused on creating a thriving economy underpinned by the skill set of the local people; empowering and strengthening communities; and tackling social inequalities.
“What a fantastic achievement!” commented Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr.
“This award win is a testament to everyone’s hard work, dedication and determination to continually go beyond normal standards in order to make a real difference to the lives of people in the local area. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this impressive project – very well done!”
During the South Lake Leisure Centre construction, the project exceeded apprenticeship targets and work experience targets by 37% and 73% respectively.
Sarah Fearon, Community Business Partner for Farrans, said:
“As a business we recognise our ability to have a positive and lasting societal impact through the delivery of our social value programmes, which bring economic, social and environmental benefits to the communities in which we operate.
“Our core business operations enhance prosperity through our commitment to procuring goods and services locally, supporting SMEs, creating apprenticeships and job opportunities, and working closely with our supply chain to drive innovation.
“We were pleased to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, social enterprises, schools, local suppliers and the community to ensure that we placed the needs of the people at the heart of our operations at South Lake Leisure Centre.”
Local Residents, Businesses, Council Staff & Councillors Work Up a Sweat for Charity!
Last week saw local residents, businesses, council staff and councillors run, cycle and paddle to help raise vital funds for the Oxfam India Covid-19 Appeal – with donations still open!
Led by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, the calorie busting fundraiser got into gear on Tuesday 8 June at South Lake Leisure Centre – seeing everyone from fitness fanatics to those up for a challenge take part in instructor-led spin classes, a biathlon involving running and kayaking at Craigavon Lakes and a day long spin-a-thon.
While the fundraising challenge reached the finish line on Friday 11 June, donations continue to roll in and will continue to be accepted until Wednesday 30 June 2021.
Funds raised will help Oxfam distribute PPE and medical equipment to hospitals and health centres; provide food and cash to the most vulnerable; and remove the barriers to increasing vaccine production and ensure access for everyone.
Thanking everyone who took part in and donated to the charity challenge, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr commented:
“I’m so pleased to see so many of the borough’s residents, businesses, council staff and elected members get behind this worthy cause and help raise money for the Oxfam India Covid-19 Appeal.
“In council, we’ve forged strong working relationships with many government and business leaders in India since our first trade mission to the country back in 2017. As we witnessed the devastating scenes coming from the region over the past number of weeks, we felt compelled to do something to help the people of India in their hour of need.
“We hope our fundraising efforts will help support Oxfam’s ongoing response to the crisis and I would encourage everyone to continue to donate if they can.”
In 2017, council established a long-standing association with India through the launch of the ‘Export to India – Go East Programme’. This programme enabled businesses from across the borough to take part in a trade mission to India, establishing many positive business partnerships, particularly in the Chennai region.