18th Century sheep shearing centre comes full circle

The opening ceremony with staff from Northumberland College Vicky McGarry and Jen Bell and members of Friends of Kirkley Hall.
The opening ceremony with staff from Northumberland College Vicky McGarry and Jen Bell and members of Friends of Kirkley Hall.

A LISTED sheep shearing centre has been brought back into use to provide state-of-the-art veterinary training facilities.

The Bell Centre has been transformed by Northumberland College to create the specialist facility at its Kirkley Hall campus near Ponteland.

The training centre is fully equipped for students to practice their skills with an x-ray machine, operating tables and scrub sinks, and includes a wet room, consulting room, operating theatre, grooming parlour and kennels.

Funding for the initiative was donated by the Friends of Kirkley Hall, with a £2,000 grant to carry out the refurbishment and buy equipment.

Animal Care Lecturer Vicky McGarry said: “Opening the Bell Centre is the result of months of hard work from everybody who has been involved in this project, including the staff and students of Northumberland College and The Friends of Kirkley Hall. We are extremely grateful for all of the help and support we have received.

“The new facilities offer our students a real life working environment in which they can stimulate working practices which they would encounter working in a veterinary surgery.”

The college hopes to offer the Level 3 Diploma for Veterinary Nursing from September.

Friends of Kirkley Hall Chairman Malcolm Watson said: “The Grade II listed building dates back to the 18th Century when originally it was used as a sheep shearing centre. I find it remarkable that now it has been restored and its function has done a full circle and it is now being used as part of an animal centre.

“We are always pleased to be involved in projects with Northumberland College and the Kirkley Hall campus and we are delighted to see that the money we donated has been put to good use and will help students achieve great things in the future.”

The new centre will be open to the public as a grooming parlour. To make an appointment e-mail grooming.parlour@northland.ac.uk

• APPRENTICES and employers have seen their achievements recognised at a special celebration at Kirkley Hall.

The Northumberland College campus hosted an awards dinner as part of National Apprenticeship Week to celebrate the value of apprentices to businesses.

Guest speaker MP Guy Opperman spoke about his working life, his administration apprentice and the value of such schemes, before introducing three apprentices trained by the college.

Keegan Kilpatrick, a bricklaying apprentice at Persimmon Homes, Gemma Hadden, a motor vehicle advanced apprentice at Newcastle City Council, and Jason Janczyk, a former electrical engineering advanced apprentice at UK Coal, who now studies the HNC in Engineering, spoke of their experiences.

Newcastle City Council, which has 35 apprentices training with the college, was named Apprenticeship Employer of the Year. Other companies nominated were Salon 2 in Morpeth and The Lounge Hair and Beauty in Bedlington.

For more information about college apprenticeship schemes or courses visit www.northumberland.ac.uk or call 01670 841268.