January start for work on new £0.5m hockey pitch at Carrickfergus Grammar School

The tender has been awarded for the development of a new 2G hockey pitch on the Carrickfergus Grammar School site following planning permission earlier this year.

McAvoy Construction of Banbridge will undertake the construction of the state-of-the-art pitch and associated works, costing over half a million pounds.

The initial application, which was written and spearheaded by the governors, principal, senior staff and PE staff of the school, includes funding from the Education Authority (EA), Sport NI and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The application is the result of a series of meetings and a number of scoping exercises over the past two years.

Carrickfergus Grammar School is to get a new 2G hockey pitch. Image courtesy McAvoy Construction.

The construction of the international-standard hockey pitch will commence in January 2022. It will include floodlights and new car parking facilities.

Whilst the new facility will be used by Carrickfergus Grammar School and Carrickfergus Academy during the day, it is envisaged the pitch will also be opened up in the evenings by the council for extensive community use.

The proposed work will also see the replacement of the shale surface on all remaining hockey pitches on the site.

James Maxwell, principal of Carrickfergus Grammar School, commented: “We are absolutely delighted at the success we have had in securing this new international-standard hockey pitch for our pupils and staff, and also for broader community use in the evenings and on weekends. This success is a result of two years’ of planning and meetings.”

Mr Maxwell continued: “The proposed facility is extremely exciting – with views over Belfast Lough which will make it a hockey pitch to rival all other hockey pitches in this country. I am extremely grateful to the Education Authority who have been so generous in sponsoring over half of the costs for the pitch, as well as Sport NI for having the vision to see the clear potential of locating such a pitch on our site, and for sponsoring approximately half the funding.

“I also wish to pay tribute to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, who have been fully supportive of this project from the outset, and who will be paying some of the funding towards the floodlighting.

“I am thrilled for the students and staff of both controlled schools on the North Road, and these facilities will only help to enhance the progress and development of our students in this sport, which is played competitively and to a high level by our students.”

Michele Corkey, EA director of Education, said: “We are delighted to have identified an opportunity to work with Sport NI through the Your School Your Club programme and Mid and East Antrim Council to provide Carrickfergus Grammar School and Carrickfergus Academy with the necessary funding to improve their sports facilities by building a 2G floodlit hockey pitch.

“The Education Authority is committed to working in partnership with other organisations to improve schools facilities which can then also be made available for community use. This project will greatly benefit the pupils at both schools and will be a great boost for the wider community who can use the pitch outside school hours.”

George Lucas, chair of Sport NI, said: “Sport NI is very pleased to support this new facility, providing an excellent experience for people to play sport during their education as well as the local community during evenings and weekends.

“Your School Your Club, is a great example of partnership working and making sure opportunities to play sport are maximised. Taking part in sport helps with education outcomes, physical literacy, and building active lives so we will be excited to see these impacts have a positive effect on the young people and local community in Carrickfergus and east Antrim.”

It is anticipated the pitch may also be booked in the evenings for training in other sports, including football.

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