From the pages of the Down Recorder, June 13, 2001

From the pages of the Down Recorder, June 13, 2001

9 June 2021

DOWNPATRICK — Plans for a multi-million pound extension to a Downpatrick grammar school have been given their first seal of approval.

South Eastern Education and Library Board officials have recommended the construction of a £7m extension to Down High School. The Department of Education will now consider the major development project when compiling its next capital programme.

The recommendation by the Board’s senior officers comes at the end of a two-year economic appraisal into the secondary school which now boasts a population of 848.

Officers at the Board are now seeking the appointment of a project team, including architects, who will be responsible for the detailed design of the new building.

Basic plans for the extension have already been drawn up, outlining two multi-storey classroom buildings, a new canteen, assembly hall and lecture theatre. It will also mean the demolition of the wing which currently houses the school assembly hall and two classrooms.

School principal Jack Ferris yesterday welcomed the favourable conclusion of the economic appraisal which began in February 1999.

“There cannot be many schools which conduct half their lessons in temporary accommodation, yet we are operating from 24 mobile classrooms at the moment. This has probably made our case for the extension stronger,” he said.

“The proposed buildings will replace all our temporary accommodation by providing up to 40 new classrooms.

“I am delighted that the Board has made the recommendation to the Department of Education, and I just hope the Education Minister will make the money available at the beginning of next year.”

NEWCASTLE — Tight security and secrecy surrounded the arrival of Prince Andrew in Newcastle last Friday.

The Prince flew in by helicopter to the Slieve Donard Hotel to attend a private meeting of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews as an official member of the committee.

It is believed he was there to discuss the 2001 Mastercard Senior British Open to be held for the second successive year at Royal County Down in July.

Army and police patrols swarmed the grounds while the Royal Marines circled the sea close to the hotel. Security checkpoints were dotted throughout the town, stirring curiosity amongst tourists and locals.

The golf crazy Prince spent most of his morning in the hotel after thrilling unexpected guests lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him.

McCue’s, established almost half a century ago, beat off 32 other entrants to scoop the award.

ARDGLASS — The comeback of the popular Ardglass summer festival may be a complete flop, an event organiser has warned.

An acute funding shortage has left the festival committee urgently looking for £5,000 which Michelle Dorrian said is proving hard to find.

For 30 years the festival was one of the most popular in the district, but Mrs Dorrian, one of the 13 festival committee members, has warned that without the money those days are unlikely to return.

Mrs Dorrian said she could not understand why local businesses are not keen to help promote the event which was once so well received.

With only around eight weeks left to raise cash she is urging shops, bars, restaurants and clubs to show their support by donating sponsor money or by taking out a small advertisement in the festival brochure costing from £10 up to £100.

CASTLEWELLAN — The architects of the world’s largest peace maze in the grounds of Castlewellan Forest Park have called for the project to be marketed as a major tourist attraction.

They believe raising the profile of the £600,000 maze will produce major benefits for the town, its people and the surrounding area.

Michael and Beverly Lear also believe new partnerships are needed to deliver the full potential of the maze, which the Tourist Board recently claimed could become as popular as the Giant’s Causeway.

The appeal was made during a detailed briefing in front of members of the Province’s Civic Forum which met for the first time in Down District last week when its fifth plenary session was held at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle.

The husband and wife team detailed the history of the project from its conception in the kitchen of their home in England, to the first of 6,000 trees being laid at the park, due to receive its official opening this autumn.

KILLINCHY — A Killinchy company is set to create 20 new jobs after scooping a multi-million pound export contract.

Willowbrook Foods, which specialises in prepared salads and vegetables, is undergoing a major expansion programme after sealing a lucrative deal with the Co-op in England.

The latest order, valued at £2m, represents a major boost to the local firm which has an annual turnover of £5m. The first consignment was dispatched to England on June 1.

Willowbrook Foods proprietor John McCann, who started the business as a small-scale farmer 30 years ago, said the increasing demand for convenience foods had driven it forward over the past four or five years.

With Willowbrook Foods as one of the fastest growing businesses in the area, and listed by LEDU as one of the top 50 companies in terms of expansion in Northern Ireland, Mr McCann now employs dozens of staff and operates a 120-acre farm. He predicts further expansion in the coming years.

TYRELLA — A teacher in a unique rural school has been shortlisted in a scheme which recognises dedication within the profession.

Mrs Chris Walsh, vice-principal at Tyrella Primary School, is now being judged, alongside a number of other teachers throughout the province, for the Teacher of the Year award sponsored by British Telecom.

The nomination comes just days after the future of the school, which serves army families from the Ballykinlar camp, was assured in a report issued by the South Eastern Education and Library Board.

With 20 years experience in the school, Mrs Walsh stood out as an obvious choice when nominations for the awards were sought earlier this year.

STRANGFORD — Age Concern has demanded that the Strangford ferry is included in the Government’s free transport scheme for pensioners.

Members of the leading charity said the exclusion of the ferry from the new government scheme was discrimination by the Department of the Environment against people from the area.

From October senior citizens across the Province will benefit from free public transport, however, the short Strangford/Portaferry crossing has not been included in the scheme even though it is also owned by the Roads Service.

Age Concern’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Mr Tom Cairns, said it was “ridiculous” that the lough crossing had not been included in the scheme.

A same-day return ticket for pensioners is 70p and Mr Cairns said that although it may not sound like a lot it was unfair for senior citizens who may like visiting friends and family across the lough.

CARRYDUFF — A Carryduff firm has become the first company in the province to receive a prestigious Design Partnership Award from the National Association of Shopfitters.

James F McCue, the specialist joinery and interior fit-out company, has been awarded the accolade as a result of work at the recently opened Tatu bar and restaurant in Belfast.

McCue’s managing director, Les McCracken, was presented with the award at a special ceremony in London by judging panel chairman, Michael Aukett.

During the ceremony, Mr Aukett said the work McCue’s carried out at Tatu “exhibited an outstanding command of space, light and materials whilst simultaneously creating an exciting and inspiring atmosphere.”