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.
Stay Ahead of the Game with Council’s Coach and Club Development Programme
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is offering local sports clubs and coaches a range of specialised training opportunities as part of its just launched 2021-22 Coach Education and Club Development Programme.
Delivered in partnership with Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) Sports Forum, the Programme will include a mixture of online and in-person workshops, covering topics such as safeguarding children and young people, designated officer, emergency first aid and mental health in sport.
Speaking at the launch, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr said:
“I am pleased to officially launch our 2021-22 Coach Education and Club Development Programme. As a council, we recognise and value the important role local clubs and coaches play in guiding and inspiring lifelong participation and success in sport.
“Through this year’s Programme – which offers both online and face-to-face training opportunities – we are committed to supporting the development of clubs, coaches and volunteers at all levels to ensure the borough’s sporting community continue to excel.”
With workshops taking place from September 2021 to March 2022, the Programme also offers training opportunities around club development planning, income generation, attracting and retaining club members as well as provides participants with the chance to attend practical-based workshops such as creating great sports environments for children, and disability inclusion training.
Chair of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Sports Forum Edith Jamison said:
“With such a wide range of workshops on offer there is something relevant and innovative for our clubs, coaches and volunteers at all levels to support their ongoing development. I would encourage all clubs, coaches and volunteers throughout the Borough to get involved and benefit from the great programme on offer.”
Varying per workshop, costs are heavily subsidised and are payable upon registration.
Affiliated members of ABC Sports Forum can avail of these workshops free of charge and will receive separate booking instructions and voucher codes. To find out more about the content of each workshop or to book your place, visit here or download a copy of the brochure here.
All Stars Summer Scheme Brings Brighter Days for Local Children
An amazing 37 local young people delight in new found skills, confidence and friendships, thanks to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s popular, fun-filled All Stars Summer Scheme.
Based at Gilford Recreation Centre, the All Stars Summer Scheme brings young people with disabilities aged between seven and 17 together to enjoy a range of inclusive activities during a series of weeklong sessions in July and August.
Taking part in everything from nature walks, climbing wall activities, outdoor games, inclusive bike sessions to dance classes, boccia, kurling, arts and crafts and more, participants got the chance to build new skills, increase their confidence and activity levels as well as forge new, life-long friendships.
Joining in on the fun and visiting the All Stars Summer Scheme sessions, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr said:
“It’s been an absolute joy to meet this year’s All Stars Summer Scheme participants and hear all about the fun things they’ve been getting up to.
“For many disabled young people, the pandemic has had a huge impact on their everyday lives and normal social routines – negatively affecting their growth and development of important life skills. All Stars Summer Scheme is so critically important to these young people and their families as it not only helps provide opportunities to stimulate participants’ social and emotional development but also helps boost their confidence and independence.”
David Alderdice, Community Access Officer, Children with Disabilities Service from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said:
“The All Stars Summer Scheme has once again proven to be a fantastic opportunity for children and young people with a disability. A considerable amount of planning goes into ensuring the smooth running of the Scheme, by both council and trust, with council staff demonstrating diligence and enthusiasm throughout.”
Led by qualified instructors and coaches, all activities were adapted and tailored to maximise involvement of all participants, provide fun and excitement as well as exposure to new opportunities. With one parent saying the programme has improved their “daughters’ confidence and enabled them to try new activities” while another parent said the programme has supported their child “to socialise with other children again, helping them gain the independence to have fun away from family.”
David Alderdice continued:
“Together this collaborative approach has enabled children who avail of the scheme to achieve improved self-esteem; the development of friendships and social skills; the opportunity to try new activities; and of course have ‘fun’. This is a great example of two public bodies coming together and collaborating to deliver a quality service that addresses the needs of some of the most excluded children within society.”
Organised and delivered by ABC Council’s Sports Development Department, All Stars is supported by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.