Omagh Integrated Primary School welcomed friends and supporters to the official opening of the children’s centre at the new integrated campus last Wednesday (22 May). John Fitzpatrick, hotelier and chair of the Ireland Funds, flew in especially to join Baroness May Blood, IEF campaign chair, to help celebrate the new facility, which he has supported from its inception.
Last week saw the official opening of the new 14-classroom primary school and a new nursery building, sited next to Drumragh Integrated College.
The children’s centre has been developed thanks to generous donations through the IEF including from the Eithne and Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund which was established in memory of John Fitzpatrick’s parents. Additional funding came from the Friends of Omagh IPS. The centre houses a voluntary pre-school playgroup as well as a breakfast club and after-school service.
Principal Anthony Bradley led pupils, parents, staff and governors (past and present) in welcoming welcome May and John and thanked them for their help in making the school’s plans for a new build become reality.
After chatting to children and staff, Dublin-born John Fitzpatrick said he was delighted to support the centre and the work of the Integrated Education Fund:
“I get sentimental because I think what you guys do is very special. I do a lot of projects through the Foundation but I think the Integrated Education Fund is my favourite. When you see all the kids together it’s special to me but it’s also frustrating because I want to do more, and for us from the outside looking in to see integrated education not being able to expand quicker.
“I say it around the country, at dinners in Chicago and San Francisco and Washington, isn’t it sad that after all the work in Northern Ireland that only 8% of schools are integrated?”
Omagh IPS opened in 1990, thanks to a group of pioneering parents, with 32 pupils and a further 24 children in the nursery. The school now has an enrolment of more than 300 pupils
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