20th Anniversary For Killyleagh Bridge Centre

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Killyleagh is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Bridge Centre.

At a ceremony in the Killyleagh Bridge Centre with community members and activists, local councillors and staff from the Centre, a plaque was presented to the Centre by the Vice Chairperson of Newry Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Terry Andrews.

Bridge Centre staff, local councillors past and present, and members of the Bridge Centre Steering Committee pictured at the 20th anniversary celebration.

The event on Saturday 7 September 2019 was attended by past and present members of the Bridge Centre Steering Committee, and Rowallane District Electoral Area (DEA) councillors. 

The Centre, which continues to provide a wide range of activities for the local community, offers some 32 weekly activities, reaching nearly 40,000 users each year.

Roy Kelly Manager of the Bridge Centre in Killyeagh, receives an inscribed glass award from Cllr Terry Andrews, Vice Chairman of Newry Mourne and Down District Council.

Newry Mourne and Down District Vice Chairperson, Councillor Terry Andrews said: “I am delighted to present this plaque to the Bridge Centre in recognition of the important part it has played, and continues to play, in the life of Killyleagh.

“One of the Council’s key aims is to improve the quality of life for our citizens through reducing health inequalities and improving access to programmes and activities that enhance wellbeing. The Killyleagh Centre has been contributing to this goal for the past 20 years and I know that the Centre will be continuing their important work for the next 20 years.

“This centre is an excellent example of partnership working between council and voluntary groups. Every community needs community activists such as those in the Centre’s Steering Committee and I am proud of the role this steering committee has played.

Bridge Centre staff with Cllr Terry Andrews, Vice Chairman of Newry Mourne and Down District Council.

“I would also like to applaud the work of the staff at the Bridge Centre for their great efforts and diligence over the years. They go the extra mile and and great at customer care.

“Our council aims as outlined in our Corporate Plan to serve the whole area, and the Rowallene DEA forum and its councillors and community members are there to serve the community. I wish the Bridge Centre every success for the next twenty years.”

Chris Hagan, a founding member of Killyleagh Bridge Centre Steering Committee, said: “The opening of the Centre was the culmination of many years of intense work by the Killyleagh Hall Steering Committee which met and consulted with local groups, organisations and clubs to identify what sort of facility was required to satisfy the needs of the area.

Bridge Centre manager Roy Kelly, second left, with Newry Mourne and Down District Council councillors Billy Walker, Terry Andrews, past councillors Sam Osborne and Margaret Ritchie, and councillor Robert Burgess.

“As you can see today I believe the committee achieved its goals and we are very happy with the outcome.”

Over the past 20 years the Centre has reinvented itself to meet the changing needs of the community. In 2015 one of the rooms was transformed into a state-of-the-art fitness suite which sees an average of 42 people each day using the new facilities. In addition, the Centre has implemented an energy efficiency programme using renewable energy and restricting the amount of fossil fuel required. New solar PV panels now provide electricity to run electrical equipment and LED lighting while air source heat pumps transfer electricity from the solar panels to provide heating and hot water for the building.

Roy Kelly, Killyleagh Centre Duty Manager, said: “The success of the Bridge Centre is down to the unwavering support it receives from those who continue to use its facilities. The last 20 years are a testament to those in the Killyleagh Hall Steering Committee who had the foresight to see what was needed in the area. This work has continued through the Bridge Centre Steering Committee who – along with a committed group of staff –  aim to ensure that the Bridge Centre remains at the heart of the Killyleagh and Shrigley community.”

Following the presentation, the Bridge Centre Steering Committee held a fun afternoon to mark the occasion, with activities for the whole family.

Walker Applauds Work Of Steering Committee.

Councillor Billy Walker said: “As a Rowallene Councillor covering Killyleagh, I am delighted that the Bridge Centre has made such an impact on the life of the town and the surrounding area. I was one of the councillors who intially lobbied for this facility and it took quite a lot of commitment from myself and other in Killyleagh to get the ball rolling for the then new centre.

“We were the envy of the district back then when it was built. It is a great facility. The Bridge Centre Steering Committee were central in moving this forward from day one and I pay tribute to their members past and present, some are now not with us, who helped to drive this project to its conclusion in serving the people of Killyleagh and district well over the years.

“I can remember attending members meetings, fundraising and lobbying and it definitely was a hard slog for us all but it was well worth it. We all pulled together in those days and worked as a team.

“I would like to pay a special tribute to Lord Taylor then MP for Strangford who attended one of our meetings then went to Westminster and found the necessary funding to build the Bridge Centre. It was funded through the EU Rural development Programme PSEP Programme through the CCRU. And Jack McIlheron, Down District Council chairman opened it on 4th June 1999.”