Education Authority (EA) Chairperson Sharon O’Connor has officially opened the new £1million hydrotherapy pool which Principal John Madden has hailed as an ‘invaluable addition’ to facilities at Roddensvale School in Larne.
Welcoming invited guests to the event, Mr Madden spoke of a landmark day in the special school’s history and how the official opening was the successful culmination of a long journey to secure and deliver this important resource.
“This is undoubtedly a good news story in education because this fantastic new facility is already making life better for children and young people here at Roddensvale,” he enthused.
“For many of our pupils, there are obvious benefits of having a warm, weight-bearing environment where physiotherapists can manipulate tight joints and muscles. However this is inevitably diluted somewhat when significant travel to access such a facility off-site is required.
“Now pupils can have their 15 minutes in the hydrotherapy pool without the prospect of a further journey afterwards which may take away from the therapeutic experience and leave them feeling weary.”
Mr Madden made reference to the ‘effective and tenacious campaign’ which had brought the vision of having a hydrotherapy pool at Roddensvale School to fruition and paid particular tribute to the tireless efforts of former Chair of Governors, Austin Heatley.
Addressing guests, Mr Heatley recounted some of the history of the hydrotherapy pool project and shared his delight that this long-awaited and top-class facility was now in place for the benefit of present and future pupils.
The Education Authority (EA) Chairperson hailed the excellent work which goes on at Roddensvale, a school which has had a positive inspection report in recent years that described the education delivered as ‘very good’ and the pastoral care as ‘outstanding’.
Ms O’Connor also quoted an Investors in People report which concluded that ‘one of the school’s greatest strengths is its culture. There is an atmosphere of team-work, mutual support, friendliness and total commitment to the care of the children’.
“The financial climate will remain very challenging for the Education Authority and schools for the foreseeable future but there are many great people working within and alongside the sector who are exceptionally committed to doing their best for all our young people,” she said.
“It is evident to me that the addition of this hydrotherapy pool is a landmark development in the 54-year history of Roddensvale and that it is a facility which will bring tangible benefit and welcome comfort to those who use it.
“There is clearly an unflinching commitment on the part of Mr Madden and all involved in the Roddensvale School community to ensure every pupil receives the best possible support and educational experience during their time here. The hydrotherapy pool will clearly make a significant contribution in that regard.
“It is a very worthwhile investment in the children and young people who already attend Roddensvale or will come here in the years ahead and it is a great pleasure to have the honour of declaring it officially open,” she said, before unveiling the plaque.
EA Chief Executive Gavin Boyd acknowledged the effectiveness of the school’s campaign for the hydrotherapy pool and thanked all of those involved in delivering the project, including Cleary Contracting and the EA’s own team of officials.
Concluding proceedings, Roddensvale Chair of Governors Maeve Maxwell thanked the distinguished guests for their attendance at the event and expressed delight with the new pool.
“It has been so exciting to see this fantastic addition to our school go from an idea, to plans, to construction, initial use and now official opening. Its first months of use have been amazingly successful, with many of our children reaping the huge benefits of hydrotherapy,” said Mrs Maxwell.
She also praised the excellent entertainment at the official opening provided by harpist Jenny McBride, a classroom assistant at Roddensvale, along with the school’s choir and Makaton ‘sign and sing’ choir.