The annual Senior Prizegiving was held at Loreto College Coleraine on September 13 and the principal Michael James welcomed back to the school former pupil Barry Dallat, restaurateur and businessman, as guest speaker for the event.
The Prizegiving celebrates the academic, extra-curricular, personal and inter-personal
achievements and excellence of the College’s Senior students, and was an opportunity to welcome back some of the Year 14 students of 2018 to celebrate their outstanding results in the recent A Level examinations.
Guest speaker Barry studied at Loreto College from 1987 to 1992. He left at 16 years of age and went on to do a Hospitality BTEC National Diploma in Portrush Catering College. Barry left this course and went onto a NVQ level 2 in Catering and Hospitality. He started working in catering at 11-years-old in a restaurant called McDuffs. At a young age he had a passion for food and this created his future path.
Barry worked in the Sun-Do Chinese restaurant, Coleraine, at 16 years old and then onto the Salmon Leap where he became the youngest Head Chef in the area at 22 years.
He opened his first restaurant in 2006 called Arbutus in Kilrea and now has two restaurants, two coffee shops, and one hotel.
He has four wedding venues in Northern Ireland and two wedding venues in the Republic.
His outside catering business started out with six staff and he now has 94 staff employed within the company and growing. Barry plans to open another restaurant by Christmas.
Barry spoke of his memories of his time at Loreto College and the foundations of his career with his education at the College. Discussing a career which has grown from modest beginnings to cooking for illustrious people as diverse as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Conor McGregor, Mr Dallat urged students to work hard and follow their dreams, to attain careers and lives which would fulfil their greatest aspirations.
Thanking Mr Dallat for his enlightening speech, College Principal Mr James added that he hoped that some of the College’s Contemporary Cuisine and Food and Nutrition students would be inspired by his story.
Mr James continued: “At Loreto our priority has always been to deliver an education which is value driven and which emphasises the importance of relationships, respect and spirituality.
“We obviously strive for academic excellence, which more and more gets measured by examination results.
“However, we are always mindful of our mission to educate the whole person and this includes the many intangible qualities that cannot be represented by examination results,” he said.
“Following this year’s examination results, I was in conversation with a parent whose daughter had transferred to Loreto in Y13 to study for A Levels. Unfortunately, the grades she had achieved did not allow her to access her first-choice university course this year and she was having to explore other options. As I offered words of consolation the mother simply said: ‘Well you know, Mr James, she has had two great years here with you and she has learned so much and benefitted from it all. She has such a great set of friends and is now so much more confident and ready to take her next step in the world’.
“This mother obviously recognised that a truly successful education is about so much more than achieving grades. It is good to get the grades, but it is not everything. As a Loreto School, we try to emulate the ideals of Mary Ward in our day to day working and ensure that her core values of Freedom, Joy, Truth, Sincerity and Justice are at the centre of everything we do. We believe that everyone can achieve, and we endeavour to create positive learning spaces, where students can learn in a disciplined yet enjoyable environment and where our students develop morally, physically and spiritually as well as academically.
“As this new academic year begins, we are again faced with changes as part of the wider rationalisation of education in Northern Ireland and the Coleraine Area in particular. Under area-based planning, we now have an expanded intake that includes some pupils from St Joseph’s College. This increased enrolment requires improved accommodation and further development of our curriculum to meet the needs of all our students and to allow each student to achieve excellence according to their own standard. Unfortunately, the development of our additional accommodation has become delayed in planning complications, although we remain hopeful that it will be delivered soon. Work is ongoing to refurbish our toilets and we continue to work with the Department of Education to ensure vital improvements and facilities are delivered within the school.
“However, once again this year also brings a further year of budget cuts and like most other schools, we wonder how much longer we can maintain the quality of service for our pupils in a climate of unrelenting financial pressure. As the future wealth and success of any country depends on providing a suitable education for its young people, it is time for our government (wherever that may be) to allocate the appropriate funding to our schools. However, if this is not forth-coming and facing a fifth year of unprecedented cuts, the Governors are now forced to consider the need to introduce a voluntary contribution in line with other schools.
“As I look back over the past academic year, there has been much to be grateful for and a great deal to celebrate. We recognise that each Loreto student brings a unique presence that adds so much to the life of the school and so this evening we celebrate the talents and abilities of each and every one of our pupils, not just our prize winners. In April this year, our 2017 academic results saw us, placed in the top four schools in Northern Ireland and although we do not focus too keenly on league tables, it is nice to note that our pupils
and their teachers performed so well.
“This year, we are mindful that the GCSE results are the first set of examination results that have been achieved by pupils who were not academically selected. I am glad to report that the results achieved by this group of students compare extremely favourably with the Northern Ireland averages in all the key indicators. 88.2% of all students achieved five or more grades A* -C, with 84% of all students achieving five or more grades A*-C, including English and Mathematics. 47.9% of students achieved 7 or more A*-B grades, with 35% of all grades achieved being A or A*, and 62% of all grades achieved being grade B or better. We are delighted that the hard work and commitment of these students and their teachers has been rewarded with such good results.
“Success at A Level continues, with over one third of all grades achieved being A* or A grades and over two thirds of all grades being a grade B or better. 100% of students achieved two or more A*-E grades, whilst 99% of all students achieved three or more passes at grades A*-E.
“Individually, Fionnuala Keane was placed first in Northern Ireland GCSE Economics, with Cabrina Farren second in GCSE Home Economics. At A Level, Sean Quinn was placed first in A Level Economics, while Aidan O’Boyle was placed third in the same subject and Aoife Keane was placed second in Software Systems Development. These performances help to confirm Loreto College as a high performing school and this is something of which everyone here should feel justly proud.
“As well as academic success, there were many other successes throughout the year. The school provides a wealth of opportunities, whether in team sports, singing in our choirs or heading off on a school trip. These activities develop skills and create friendships that last beyond school and I am delighted, as ever, with participation in the wider school life. I congratulate all those who have taken part throughout the year, as well as thanking all our staff who organise and run the various activities.
“In the BT Young Scientists competition in Dublin notable success was achieved again this year, with Donal Close and Sian Donaghy winning the Institute of Physics prize and Susan McKendry highly commended in her category. These students were also runners-up in the Intermediate Science category at the annual Big Bang UK Scientists and Engineers Competition, one of the largest events of its kind. We congratulate them and thank their mentors Mrs Close and Mrs Brolly.
“Several individuals and teams enjoyed sporting successes this year with another good year for our Gaelic Games teams. In particular, our Y10 girls deserve a special mention for winning their netball competition and then becoming double Ulster Champions by winning the Erne Shield in Gaelic Football and the Fr Davies Cup in Camogie - a fantastic achievement for all concerned. The Senior boys Gaelic team, lost at the quarter final stage of the MacLarnon Cup competition, whilst the Y12 Rannafast team, playing in an A competition for the first year, emerged as winners of the Shield competition, beating old rivals, St Paul’s Bessbrook, in the final. An incredible achievement for the squad and Mr Murtagh, their coach. Meanwhile, the Year 8 Gaelic team qualified to the quarter final stages of the JM Murphy Cup, the Y10 team also reached the Quarter Final of the Gerry Brown Cup and the Year 11 team lost in the Final of the Paddy O’Hara Cup. Congratulations to all the teams and their very dedicated coaches, Mrs McGoldrick, Mr Murtagh, Mr Deighan, Mr Murphy, Mr Conroy, Mr Boyle and Mr Bradley.
“Netball and Soccer teams competed at all levels in the Coleraine and District Leagues, enjoying a great deal of success. The Senior Netball Team won their league, the Intermediate team finished as runners-up, the Junior A team won their league with the Junior B team runners-up in the same competition and the Year 8 Netball Team won the Coleraine & District Tournament. Congratulations to all the teams and their coaches, Miss McAllister, Ms Wilson and Mrs McCullough. The Year 8 Soccer Team won the Coleraine & District League title for the second year in a row, whilst the Year 9 Soccer Team having won the Y8 competition the previous year also won their league, with Patrick Kelly selected to play soccer for Northern Ireland. Thanks to Mr Byrne and Mr McCloskey who coached the teams.
“Thanks also to Mrs Mc Broom who took over the school’s cross-country teams this year. In the NEBBSA team events, the Year 8 and Year 10 Girls both took first place. Individually, Sophia Coyle took first place and Layla O’Hara came second in the Y8 race with Niamh McGarry second in the Year 9 race and Cara McLaughlin second in the Y10 Girls race. At the District Cross Country Championships, the Senior Girls team was placed second overall, with Niamh Carr winning the race. Sophia Coyle was first in the Year 8 Girls race and Niamh McGarry was second in Year 9 Girls race. Niamh Carr then went on to win the Ulster Cross Country Championships and went on to success at all-Ireland level. Later in the year, she won Gold in the Senior Girls 800 and 1500m races, again qualifying for the All Ireland Finals. Niamh is certainly making her mark in cross-country and athletics and is one to watch out for in the future. Year 11 student, Tolu Jide Ojo, won Bronze in the Intermediate Girls Long Jump, also qualifying for the All Ireland Finals.
“Away from sport, Daniel Sharpe and Conor Radford represented the school with great distinction at the Mount Charles Big Cook Off in association with the Irish News. Year 9 student, Grace McConnell was runner-up in the poster section of the National Youth Media Awards and several Year 11 students, as part of our Shared Education Project with St Joseph’s and Coleraine Grammar produced a series of landscape paintings, under the guidance of local artist Sarah Carrington. Music and drama continue to thrive and our production of ‘Footloose’ was certainly a highlight of the Autumn Term, with a week of fantastic performances to sell-out crowds. The breadth and depth of talent on display was both mesmerising and inspirational. Well done and thank you to Mrs McEwan and Mr Gallagher for their wonderful guidance and direction. Our traditional group, ably led by Mrs Close, was selected to perform in the Ulster Final of the prestigious Gael Linn Siansa competition. Some of these very talented students also competed successfully at the Ulster Fleadh, with Conrad O Coisneachan, second in Uilleann pipes, Peadar Connor, first in Clarinet, Niamh Mooney, first in Harp and Donal Close, first in piano. A fantastic achievement for all concerned and our thanks to Mrs Close for all her hard work with these musicians.
“I would like to thank the teachers and other staff members who give so freely of their time to provide these wonderful opportunities, whether it is school trips to New York, Berlin, Rome or Paris, our school musical or Spring Concert, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Gaelic Games, soccer, netball or cricket. This myriad of activities and sports is only possible through the selfless dedication and commitment of the staff who spend long hours preparing, planning and coaching on your behalf.
“Central to our Catholic ethos are the many liturgies and retreats throughout the year. These liturgies offer a focus for us all to come together and share in celebration, prayer and reflection. They add greatly to our school and are an essential part of life here in Loreto. I thank our Religious Education Department for the time and effort they put into organising these and appreciate the support of the many visiting Priests who celebrate the masses and offer pastoral support.
“Our own lives are enriched when we help and give to others and our Loreto education encourages our students to use their talents and abilities in the service of others. Our pupils live out this ethos by volunteering in their parishes, participating in the Pope John Paul Award, helping in our SVP Group or by joining Camps International to build houses in developing countries. This year, Miss Galbraith was joined by several of our pupils on Pilgrimage to Lourdes – a wonderful and very memorable experience for them all. I am always humbled by the generosity of our pupils and their continuing support for the school’s designated charities. This year’s Trocaire Lenten appeal raised over £5054, whilst at Christmas, thirty large hampers were collected and distributed by our SVP group and an impressive 371 shoeboxes were collected to bring joy and hope to those most in need at Christmas. All Year 8 students took part in a Sponsored Walk to raise funds for Action MS and large sums were also raised for several cancer charities as well as the money raised on Mission Day to support our own Loreto missions around the world. I commend and thank Mrs McCool for her hard work and commitment coordinating all these efforts.
‘“n your behalf, I want to say a special thank you to our teachers for their continued professionalism and commitment. I feel proud and honoured to have them as colleagues in our school and I am convinced that there is no finer staff in any school. I am confident that they provide a level of service that is truly outstanding, and I commend them to you and thank them on your behalf. At this time of year, we also take time to thank those staff members who have moved on to pastures new and to different challenges. This year we said a fond farewell to Mr Scullion, Mrs Doherty and Mrs McGoldrick, who together had a combined service of 118 years here in Loreto. Their continuing enthusiasm for their subjects and their commitment to the students in their care was truly a reflection of our Loreto ethos. Miss Curry, after 19 years, has also moved on to a new phase in her life. Her passion for Geography and her students set her apart as a special teacher and we wish her well in married life. For all these teachers, their time here in Coleraine has been filled with many successes both in and out of the classroom and although no-one is irreplaceable, it will be hard to replicate the unique qualities they have brought during their time in Loreto. We
will miss them all and wish them health and happiness.
“As ever, my thanks to all our support staff for the wonderful job they do on your behalf. They play a vitally important role in maintaining the quality of services in the school and their commitment and dedication to our students is unparalleled, whether providing meals in the canteen, offering support in the classroom, taking care of the buildings or dealing with your many queries at the office. My thanks to them all on your behalf. My thanks also to our Governors, who are continuously required to make many important and difficult decisions. They give very generously of their time and expertise and always have the best interests of the
College and its students at heart.
“I am indebted and grateful to the Loreto Community both here in Coleraine and further afield. Their prayers and support every year are a valuable source of strength and we look forward to their continued presence in the school.
“Finally, my thanks to you our parents and students. My heartfelt thanks to you, our parents, for your trust and support. With your continued support, even in this changing educational landscape, I have every confidence that we will continue to offer a first-class education
to all our students, as well as enabling more students to share in our traditional Loreto values. To our pupils. You are what make Loreto College so special. You are all key members of our school community and we greatly appreciate your own unique talents and qualities. Loreto College is your school and you have an important role to play in its future development. And my challenge to you is to make Loreto the best school it can be, by aiming high academically, by looking out for each other and by looking after our school environment; as well as striving for the highest standards of manners, respect and courtesy. I thank you for your continuing cooperation throughout the year and the polite and pleasant manner you invariably display. I am extremely proud to be Principal of your school and I hope that you are equally proud to be its pupils. Thank you.”