Rugby and GAA stars join forces for Orchard opening

Veronica Lennon with her children Holly, Clara and Cailum at the official opening of Orchard Pre-school. INPT46-600AM
Veronica Lennon with her children Holly, Clara and Cailum at the official opening of Orchard Pre-school. INPT46-600AM

Children, parents, staff and friends of the Orchard Pre-School and Out of Schools Club were out in force on Saturday to celebrate the official opening of the group’s new premises.

The official opening ceremony was carried out by Paddy Johns former Ireland international rugby captain and Mrs Caoimhe Morgan, Armagh Senior Ladies star.

The cross community Pre-School and After Schools Club moved into their new purpose-built modular building in June 2015.

The new building is large, bright and airy and Portadown architect Paul McAlister designed it with the needs of children in mind. It perfectly complements the excellent outdoor area installed in 2010 thanks to a grant from the Department of Education.

The new building was funded by the Department of Education, Southern Childcare Partnership and Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister’s Bright Start programme. Several local businesses also supported the group and speaking at the event, Joanne Gallagher, committee chairperson, extended her thanks to all funders and business sponsors.

Facility leader Briege Cullen said, “The children in the Pre-school and After Schools club have been really excited about moving into the new building and we have been planning today’s party with them for weeks. The facilities are superb and help myself and the other staff make sure the children under our care have the best possible experience with us.”

Chair Joanne Gallagher added, “The new building improves the experience of our pre-school children who are with us every day from 9am to 1.45pm. They have allowed us to extend our after schools club. After schools is now open every day from 2pm to 5.30pm. We look after children from primary one to primary seven during these sessions so having different areas lets us make sure we can meet the different ages of the children.”

The Pre-school session has also benefitted from the improvements. There is a quiet room for small group activities and other improvements like an interactive whiteboard and kitchen area to allow cooking activities which are always popular.

Summing up at the event, Joanne and Briege were both keen point out that one of their main aims is to make sure children in the care of the group enjoy spending time there and feel happy there. If the number of children who turned up for the opening and the fun they were having are any indication they seem to be succeeding.

For further information about the Pre-school and After Schools club contact the group on 028 38891775 or