Last Monday the Humphreys Hall at Coleraine Inst was packed to capacity by staff, pupils and invited guests to welcome Alderman Ian Luder, Governor of The Honourable The Irish Society and other members of the Society who were present to open the new River Pavilion, built to replace the old facility which had been opened on 2nd May 1968 by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent.
The Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Archie Linnegan began proceedings.
“As we gather to formally open our new River Pavilion, I am mindful that none of this would have been possible without the dream,” he said.
“From my predecessor, Mr. James Smyth and his then deputy Mr Clark Black came this seedling idea. The dream came from necessity - we all recognise that the Old River pavilion had served its day. The realisation was that we needed improved facilities.
“This dream also came from our successes through the years and our desire to improve and to mirror the desire for improvement we see displayed by all our young sportsmen.
“Those were the dreamers, then we needed the schemers and the achievers, and that’s where the School’s Premises Sub committee, who have delivered this project stepped in. I want to recognise their dedication and selfless efforts during the planning and building stages.
“This pavilion is a legacy of which you can be justly proud as we focus on the facility with which we can now offer our young men improved opportunity and experience.
“I would also like to congratulate our Architect: Mr Jeff Wilson, our Surveyor: Mr Ivan McConnell and our Contractor: JA Gamble &Co and all the sub contractors who should, I think, be very proud of their part in providing such a fine facility. Here, thanks to them, we will make a difference. And therein of course, lies the essence of education.
“This pavilion allows us to really think about what it is we offer our boys. This is not just about games, sport and winning. It is about striving for personal bests, to be the best that you can be. “It is about teamwork. It is about dedication and determination. It is about fulfilling your potential, and none of us can learn to do that until we learn to push and test ourselves. I believe our pavilion will offer that opportunity.”
The Chairman handed over to Dr David Carruthers who spoke of the great sporting tradition in the school.
“The founding sport at Coleraine Inst was Cricket, followed by Rugby Football in 1884,” revealed Dr Carruthers.
“The first ever First XV won the Schools Cup in that year. Rowing began in the 1890s but was only fully established as a school sport in 1928. From the 1950s onwards, the expansion of the school allowed for the development of a wide range of other sports, notably Harriers, Badminton, Athletics, Swimming, Tennis, Golf and Table Tennis.
“In all of these sports, literally hundreds of boys have achieved selection for Ulster or Irish Schools. Indeed one individual, Roddy Wilson, was selected to play rugby for the Scottish Schools whilst still a student here!
“The sporting tradition of the school is in good hands with the current pupils and leaders and we look forward to enhancing that tradition with our new facility and into the future as we establish a co-educational grammar school on this wonderful site.”
Alderman Luder, Governor of The Honourable The Irish Society thanked the School for inviting him to perform the opening ceremony and spoke of the long association the Society had with CAI beginning with the plans for the formation of the school leading to its opening in 1860 with the grant of land from The Clothworkers Company and a donation from The Irish Society to build the school.
This association has continued to this day with the annual Founders Prize, sponsored by The Irish Society and the Clothworkers Company, for the best A Level student.
Following the speeches the guests made their way to the River Pavilion whilst the group from the Irish Society made a detour for Alderman Luder to plant a Hampstead Heath oak tree which the society was presenting to the School to commemorate its 400th anniversary.
The Irish Society group then joined the other guest at the Pavilion where the Chairman invited Alderman Luder to cut the ribbon and declare the River Pavilion open.
The guests then had the opportunity to view the new facility consisting of a large boat storage space, six team changing rooms, staff changing rooms, meeting room, kitchen and an equipment storage room.
Following the tour guests were entertained to afternoon tea in the museum hosted by the museum curator, Mr Joe Cassells whilst the members of The Irish Society had luncheon in the School Boardroom where the visitors book was signed.