Please click on the links below to find out more about the school's commemorations of the Titanic Centenary. You can also find lots more about our very special exhibition event last May by accessing May 2011 from the News Archive (see News page).
Please use this page to check out more details as our plans come together. It's an incredibly exciting time for the school and we are all very proud to be ambassadors for Thomas Andrews and Titanic at this time.
The big news here, as we approach the actual centenary date, is that two of our core 'events' are nearing completion. Our book, 'A Titanic Memorial' - the Andrews Memorial Hall', celebrating the Hall itself and those who used it - from the present day pupils through to past generations - is about to go to press. All very busy and exciting. News of the book's publication can be found on the March page of the News section of the website.
Our lift installation is due to finish at the end of March, just in time for Comber's Centenary events over the weekend of 13-15 April 2012. The Hall will be open to visitors on Sunday 15 April 2012, from 2.00pm - 4.30pm. Visitors are very welcome, especially those who want to relive their memories of their dancing days! Hopefully, they'll have the chance to put those formerly well-honed skills into practice once again in the not too distant future...
You can view pictures of the early stages of the building programme on January's News page.
The 30 March 2012 saw the publication of our book. We had a wonderful launch event, with speakers representing all the contributors to the book, including some pupils, who read their own words. Imagine the thrill of being in P3 and already a published author!
The book will be on sale during the Titanic Centenary weekend in Comber (13-15 April 2012). It will also be on sale from the school, once term begins again on 16 April 2012. We hope to have it on sale in various shops around Comber, so you should be able to get a copy. Please tell your friends and family, too - it really is superb value at just £10. Click here for a preview...
The Titanic Centenary weekend in Comber will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to be there. That's a grand statement, but one entirely in keeping with the mood of the weekend, the success of all the events and the genuine feeling of 'coming together' to commemorate this most important and significant event.
You can see a picture from our book launch on the March News page. If you would like to purchase a book and don't live in Comber, PLEASE just contact the school and we'll arrange for a copy to be sent to you.
Our weekend began with the school choir singing at 2nd Comber Presbyterian Church's Flower Festival. The festival was the centrepiece of the church's 'Comber Together Titanic Festival', which we also supported through the children's work being on display and some artefacts on loan for the historical exhibition. Children's work also formed part of the exhibition at St Mary's Parish Church on the Friday evening, at its concert with the Harlandic Male Voice Choir.
On Saturday evening the Andrews Hall reverberated to the fabulous music of a number of special guests - the Victoria / Queen's Island Male Voice Choirs, the band and pipes of the Royal Irish and the cultured voice of Father Martin O'Hagan, from St Mary's in Comber. It was an incredible evening, made particularly special for the school as the hall was filled with people who had spent many happy hours at dances there in the past. Having our new lift open for use was fantastic - and popular among many of the guests.
The Hall was also open as part of two historical walks hosted by Desi Rainey, on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday the school opened the Hall for anyone wishing to visit and perhaps relive some memories. Our very last visitor turned out to be one of the school's first pupils, now living outside Comber and genuinely glad to have the opportunity to visit a builiding very fondly remembered from her youth. Eunice was also delighted to buy a copy of the book - her photo being included when she was a P7 Cycling Proficiency candidate!
Below, you can view a series of photos of the now refurbished Andrews Memorial Hall, complete with 21st century emergency access / exit. The lift is a fabulous addition to the building and improves the safety for all users. Very appropriately, its first 'official' user was a young man who was accompanying one of the historical walks. Until now, he would not have been able to see inside this special building, or view the memorial plaque on the upstairs landing, because he is permanently confined to a wheelchair. Now he can.
The contemporary appearance is part of the design regulations covering additions to listed buildings; indeed it isn't actually part of the building's fabric at all, as that cannot be altered. What is crucial is that everyone has a safe access / exit, especially in the case of emergencies. To this end, we are grateful to the SEELB for its support nad funding of the work. Perhaps you'll witness the results some day soon... We certainly hope so!
The new structure, viewed from the SE.
The structure is joined to the original fabric by a glazed atrium.
Access to the Hall remains unaltered at the front. To this, the S side, two new access ramps join one original side door and one new door (as shown here). This will make access to Jiminy Cricket's After-School Club more secure, as well as provide access for wheelchair users and those wishing to use the lift.
Inside the new building, a staircase wraps around the lift shaft itself. The 'climb' is notably easier than the original stairs, as there are three rises, rather than two. It does make a difference!
At the top of the stairs / lift, the Hall is accessed 'through' the original stone wall. The stone removed from this and the lower original windows was used to build a new window at the rear of the Hall where the fire escape has now been removed (see top photo). This 'new' window returns the rear elevation to its original form and makes the the back of the stage more attractive and symmetrical when viewed from the interior.
Inside the Hall, the new building is accessed from what was originally a window opening - you can see the original outline above the new door. This access is from the main floor level of the Hall, thus ensuring a much easier and quicker escape from the building. The previous fire escape was accessed from the rear of the elevated stage and did not meet current health and safety requirements.
In rounding up the news from this centenary year, there three key events to highlight: our work in support of the RNLI, the production of The Boat Factory and our 'Titanic Photo'. The latter two are reported on the May and June pages of the News section, so please take a few minutes to read up on them there.
Our intended sponsored cycle took on a slightly different 'appearance' from our original idea. We decided to open up the event to allow parents and children to cycle in aid of the RNLI at any time, in any convenient location. We did encourage the use of the Comber Greenway, but we felt it a little unfair to restrict our supporteers to just that location. The weather around the beginning of June was also a factor - it wasn't very pleasaant and our 'celebration BBQ' had to be cancelled! Still, we are very proud to announce that we raised £800 in aid of the charity and presented a cheque to Liz Brown at our Leavers' Assembly on 27 June 2012. Liz, in turn, had been supporting the school through speaking to the children at assemblies and in their classrooms - teaching them about the work of the RNLI and hopefully helping them understand the dangers around our coastline. Our sincere thanks to Liz and all our supporters who took the time to cycle and raise some money.
In addition to all the current members of the school community who helped, we have enlisted a new friend in Fiona Presho, from Holywood, who even took to period costume in her efforts to support us. Well done, Fiona!
This centenary year has been a truly momentous one for the school. We set about our responsibility to commemorate the Titanic Centenary in a responsible and sensitive way, as well as to seek to build sustainable community partnerships with our own school community, that of Comber itself and the wider community of N. Ireland and beyond. Our journey has been an adventurous one and ultimately an extremely rewarding one. We still have a dance to organise, but the plans are already in place, so you still have to watch this space!
On behalf of the school, we want to thank all those who helped and supported us along the way. We really couldn't have done it without you. More importantly, we really enjoyed doing it all with you!
Remember, too, our book remains on sale from the school - at £10 it's still a bargain you can't afford to miss!