News story

HRH The Earl of Wessex visited Ardaluin Outdoor Activity Centre, Newcastle, County Down

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Ardaluin House provided an important respite from conflict through adventure learning programmes for young people from across greater Belfast.

Ardaluin House was acquired by Ballygomartin Boys Secondary School in 1971 and subsequently by Cairnmartin Community High School.

In 2010 Ardaluin Trust formed a partnership with Belfast Activity Centre (BAC) and was renamed Ardaluin Regeneration Trust.  It’s role is to support the rescue, restoration and regeneration of Ardaluin House and grounds with the aim of providing affordable, accessible, self-catering residential accommodation and outdoor learning opportunities for the personal and social development of young people, particularly from disadvantaged communities or backgrounds.

On arrival HRH was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of County Down Mr David Lindsay. Throughout the engagement HRH was accompanied by Mr Tom Scott, Chairman, Belfast Activity Centre and Mr Stephen Dickson, Chief Executive, Belfast Activity Centre.

HRH walked the short distance to the beech wood and met Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award participants, Ryan Macpherson, Niamh Macpherson, Callum Shaw and Orlagh Thompson. Moving on, HRH met a number of young people engaged in a range of Duke of Edinburgh’s Award activities. Outside Ardaluin House HRH met young people using the mobile climbing wall and participating in other activities.

Moving inside Ardaluin House, HRH met members of the Belfast Activity Centre (BAC) and the Ardaluin Regeneration Trust Board and watched a short musical/drama piece entitled “Memories of Ardaluin” enacted on the staircase by a number of young people from the Fortwilliam Musical Society.

Accompanied by BAC Ambassador, Mr Dawson Stelfox, HRH took a short tour of the centre and met representatives of the design and build team and viewed one of the refurbished dormitories.

Later in the Dining Room, HRH met representatives from the following groups - Funders, Prince’s Trust, Friends of Ardaluin House, and BAC staff and volunteers and viewed a number of rolling slides depicting the project before and during the first building phase.

HRH listened to the challenges and the vision for the future of Ardaluin House from Stephen Dickson and heard about the £150,000 grant to complete the restoration which was announced today, by the Department for Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland MLA,

Mr Dickson invited HRH to unveil a plaque to commemorate the visit and the reopening of Ardaluin House and invited Jack Dickson, aged five, to present HRH with a gift of a wood turning by local craftsman, Paddy Brannigan.

In the front hall, HRH signed the visitors’ book prior to departure for the next engagement.

Notes to Editors

On arrival HRH was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of County Down Mr David Lindsay and went on to meet:

Mr Duffy Cunningham, Sheriff for County Down

Councillor Mickey Coogan, Chairman, Down District Council

Mr John Dumigan, Chief Executive, Down District Council

Ms Margaret Ritchie MP, Member of Parliament for South Down

Mr Nelson McCausland, MLA, Minister, Department for Social Development

Mr Chris Hughes, Director, Belfast Regeneration Office, Department for Social Development.

Mr Tom Scott, Chairman, Belfast Activity Centre

Mr Stephen Dickson, Chief Executive, Belfast Activity Centre.