Pupils from Castle Tower School, Ballymena and Sandelford School, Coleraine, travelled to Ravenhill Rugby Ground on Friday 8 February, to support the Ulster Rugby team playing against the Ospreys.

This was a special celebration event, as part of the North East PEACE III Schools Based Project, funded under the European Union’s PEACE III Programme managed on behalf of the Special EU Programmes Body by the North East PEACE III Partnership. The project is being delivered by Scoutlink and has helped young people from schools in the North East develop strong relationships over the past four months through a challenging programme of sport and outdoor activities.

Focussing on the trio of Rugby, Football and Gaelic, this visit to Ravenhill was the icing on the cake for Coleraine and Ballymena students after three rugby training sessions. Little did they know that not only would they enjoy the match, but they would get to meet some of their Ulster Rugby heroes as well.

During the Ulster v Osprey’s match on Friday night, six young people were invited on to the pitch at half time to meet Tommy Bowe and Roger Wilson, two of the first team players. Chris Webster, Operations Manager at Ulster Rugby also very kindly organised a photo opportunity for the whole group of 50 in the stands with the two players. One comment from the group sums up the whole exciting experience: “It was class!”

The Schools Based Project has provided the students with a platform to meet and develop strong friendships in regards to peace and reconciliation. This amalgamation has also helped to explore their identity and helped with their school work.

Bonnar Clarke from Sandelford School said: “Staff and pupils from both schools interact naturally. It is very smooth and has been a real motivation for behaviour and attitudes within the school.”

Sandra Wylie from Castle Tower added: “The North East PEACE III Partnership has furnished Castle Tower with the means to work with another local special needs school with the aim of undertaking a sports based cross community project. From day one the pupils were enthusiastic and eager about the chance to undertake activities with pupils of a similar age from the surrounding area.

“It gave the young people an opportunity to undertake activities which they would not normally have had the chance to avail of.”