Rathfriland YFC have officially opened their new premises on Downpatrick Street during an afternoon ceremony held on Saturday 25th April.
The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Noel Lavery declared the 520sq m hall building open as over 200 guests including current and past club members along with invited dignitaries and neighbouring YFC clubs looked on.
The immediate past President Rosemary McConnell who oversaw most of the building project welcomed guests and current Club President, Rebecca McConnell introduced a range of speakers including the special guest Mr. Lavery.
Hall secretary, treasurer and club trustee Barclay Bell talked the audience through the building process and the move from the old premises on Newry Street which had been home to the club from 1950 to 2013.
Club leader Simon Agnew spoke on behalf of the club members, outlining his excitement for the future of the club. Recently appointed YFCU President Roberta Simmons, also a member of Rathfriland YFC addressed the audience bringing greetings from the Association in her first official engagement as President.
Speaking after the ceremony, Mr. Lavery said: “Rathfriland YFC have indeed created a centre of excellence with support from the Rural Development Programme (RDP) that will not only provide the Club with state of the art amenities, but the wider Rathfriland community will also benefit. This truly modern facility will provide Rathfriland Young Farmers Club with the resources to continue to engage and reach out to the local community.”
Club President Rebecca McConnell reflected: “It is a very special day in the 71 year history of our club. We have a beautiful, contemporary, stylish building ready to serve the future of the club and a facility to host a wide range of events and activities.
“It was lovely so many people were able to join us today to celebrate this special occasion and we hope they were all suitably impressed with our new hall. We see it as a new addition to help strengthen the already vibrant rural life here in South Down.”
Club Trustee Barclay Bell paid tribute to the building contractors for all their hard work over the past 13 months: “We want to thank Moss Construction for the sterling job they did managing and delivering on the building project. We are grateful for the support of the Down Rural Area Partnership for their generous grant and it was a pleasure to have Alderman Alan Graham share with us on stage today.
“We also received funding from the former Banbridge District Council, Garfield Weston Foundation and Awards for All. This has been a long process and we are delighted to show off the result of months of hard work to our club friends and supporters.”
Club Leader Simon Agnew added: “This is an exciting phase and living history for our club members to witness and we are delighted to have such a wonderful new building we can call home. We look forward to having our club meetings and functions in the hall and who knows, maybe even a three act drama play soon too.”
After the speeches, guests enjoyed afternoon tea which was kindly sponsored by Milestone Rathfriland and The Home Bakery and past members had the opportunity to reminisce over club scrapbook and chat with fellow members. An iMovie presentation showed the building process from the building site to the finished hall.
The new hall incorporates a multi-purpose hall, with dividing wall, complete with portable stage facilities, an additional meeting ‘Club room’, a fully fitted kitchen, male, female and disabled toilet facilities and an office space for club administration. The hall also has its own car parking spaces on site.
The club will host an opening evening on Friday 8th May when members of the public can come and view the new building from 7 to 10pm, and find out a bit more about it and the YFC organisation.
Further information on the club can be found on their Facebook page.