New community sports facility opens in St. Paul’s H.S.

October 13, 2014

A new state-of-the-art sports facility, which was officially opened by Social Development Minister Meryvn Storey, at St. Paul’s High School in Bessbrook on Thursday, will benefit the entire community, the Minister said.

A converted PE storage area now houses the £70,000 facility, boasting a wide range of fitness apparatus, delivered with contributions from the Department for Social Development, Ulster Rugby and the Big Lottery Fund ‘Awards for All’.

Opening the new facility, Minister Storey said: “Sport develops and enriches communities and there are clear links between sporting activity and improved health and well being. This new sports facility at St Paul’s will allow both the young people attending the school, the staff, and the wider community to avail of state of the art amenities thereby opening further opportunities and forging stronger cross community links.”

As well as being used by the school, the new facility will also support the school in its outreach activities such as the ‘Best Ball Buddy’ community sport initiative which gives children from both sides of the local community an opportunity to be active and healthy in a total neutral setting with sport acting as the back-drop.

Principal Jarlath Burns thanked the Minister for performing the official opening, adding: “St Paul’s has served this area for almost 60 years, making its facilities available to the local community. The new fitness facility will, therefore, make a major contribution towards addressing social exclusion in this area of need.”

During his visit the Minister also made reference to an earlier DSD-funded project which assisted three local primary schools to upgrade IT facilities. The schools that benefitted from £35,000 investment were St Joseph’s, Bessbrook, St Peter’s, Cloughreagh, and Bessbrook Primary School.

In conclusion, Minister Storey added: “These projects are excellent examples of joined up working involving a range of public sector partners coming together to make a difference to the lives of residents living in areas of disadvantage. They provide enhanced opportunities to improve health, education, and recreation for people of all ages and are a further demonstration of the Department’s commitment to promoting regeneration.”