Local company proud to sponsor revived community event

One of Kilrea’s best-loved community festivals is set to return this month after a wave of online nostalgia during lockdown generated enough support for its revival.

The Kilrea Fairy Thorn Festival was launched in 1992 and ran until the mid-2000s, before dropping out of the annual calendar of events. However, social media commentary during the pandemic led to the formation of an association and the launch of the 2022 festival, which takes place from Friday August 19-21.

One of the main sponsors is Kilrea company, Hutchinson Engineering who will also host an Open Evening following the festival on Thursday August 25 (6-8pm). As a key local employer, Hutchinson Engineering is keen for people to visit their factory and learn about the work that goes on there as well as the job and training opportunities which exist.

A packed line-up of events has been planned for the Fairy Thorn Festival, including a fun fair, five-a-side football competition, Gaelic games tournament, fancy dress parade, art exhibition boat tours along the River Bann, a golf competition, WI exhibition, a fun run, vintage rally, treasure hunt and history walk.

Hutchinson Engineering delighted to be one of the main sponsors of the Fairy Thorn Festival

The festival will also feature comedy nights, music sessions and a closing ceremony featuring special guest and live performances.

Hutchinson Engineering CEO, Mark Hutchinson said he is delighted to see the return of the community festival.

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Kilrea’s Fairy Thorn Festival returns

He said: “We are proud to sponsor the festival as it returns to the local calendar of events. There is a real buzz around the town and people are excited to see the festival being revived. A great deal of work has gone into planning this year’s event and The Kilrea Community Fairy Thorn Association deserves great credit for getting us to this stage.

Hutchinson Engineering CEO Mark Hutchinson

“At Hutchinson Engineering, we are proud to be a part of this community and to provide high-value employment for local people. We have a long history of supporting the festival and we look forward to many more years of sponsorship.

“My mother, Pearl has been given the honour of opening this year’s festival which we are all very pleased about. Mum was on the original organising committee and as a local historian she is heavily involved in community life in the Kilrea area.”

As one of Northern Ireland’s leading laser-cutting manufacturing companies, Hutchinson Engineering works across a number of sectors and, in particular, is a trusted partner providing high levels of expertise to businesses in the crushing & screening, agricultural and coach building industries. The company is passionate about supporting young people from the area into jobs which lead to excellent careers.

Mark said: “We are launching the Hutchinson Engineering Welding Academy to offer young people, as well as those seeking to change jobs post-pandemic, exciting career paths.

“The academy allows candidates, aged 16-18, to become skilled in welding while helping us address the ongoing shortage of skilled welders, and it helps us to build a pipeline of skills within our company and improve our ability to meet demand.

“Gaining new skills together with a job opportunity at the end is an attractive route for jobseekers. Our Welding Academy participants receive a fully blended practical training package and upon successful completion of the programme, will achieve a recognised Manufacturers Welding Procedure Qualification and a permanent position with Hutchinson Engineering.

“We would encourage anyone who is interested in starting a career with us to visit the factory on our Open Evening. It will be an excellent opportunity to find out more about what we do, tour our facilities and see the state-of-the-art equipment we use. I’m sure there are some local people who aren’t sure about what goes on here so our Open Evening will be the perfect opportunity to come along and find out a little more about what we do.”

For a full programme of festival events visit www.thefairythorn.com. To find out more about the Hutchinson Engineering Open Evening visit Eventbrite