Man Utd legend Wes Brown in Derry to support schools programme

Ulster University, in partnership with the Manchester United Foundation, welcomed former Red Devils defender Wes Brown to the Magee campus on Thursday to celebrate four years of their schools outreach programme.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 3:34 pm

The educational and community programme has engaged with 10 schools from the Foyle Learning Community since it was launched in 2018.

Led by Ulster University and supported by the Manchester United Foundation, more than 500 pupils from across Derry have engaged in a range of initiatives designed to motivate and inspire the next generation, widen access and create pathways to Ulster University. Each programme within the educational outreach portfolio features a different objective and delivery mood, including entrepreneurship, advocacy, health, wellbeing, sport, career choices, pathways to HE/FE and STEM.

Professor Malachy Ó Neill, Director of Regional Engagement at Ulster University, commented: “We were delighted to welcome footballing legend Wes Brown to Magee to meet the young people who have been part of Ulster University and Manchester United Foundation’s Schools Outreach programme.

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Pictured at the Manchester United Foundation partnership event with Ulster University at the Magee Campus are, from left, Professor Malachy " Néill, Ulster University Director of Regional Engagement, John Shiels, CEO of the Manchester United Foundation, Wes Brown, Manchester United Club Ambassador and Lorraine Lavery-Bowen, Ulster University School Partnerships Manager.

“At Ulster University, we pride ourselves on our strong links with local schools and strive to create a welcoming environment on our campus for activities that benefit the local community. As we enter the fourth year of the outreach programme, I want to recognise the commitment of the children in the Foyle Learning Community who have given their all to the programme and have achieved great success on and off the pitch. Together with Manchester United Foundation and the Foyle Learning Community, we will continue to inspire students by fostering skills and self-belief that they will carry with them throughout their education and future careers.”

During his visit to the Magee campus, Wes Brown – who represented United between 1998-2011 during an extremely successful period for the club - was the guest speaker for the ‘In Conversation’ aspect of the celebration event.

He discussed in detail his experience of rising through the club’s youth system and the Manchester United Foundation partnership which includes the ‘United…The Business’ project, providing young people with an insight into what it takes for Manchester United to be successful on and off the pitch.

Wes said: “Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone at Ulster University for making me feel so welcome. It’s been great to see that the work of the Foundation is now reaching beyond Greater Manchester through this partnership, giving youngsters out here some incredible opportunities. The Foundation is brilliant at engaging with young people and getting the best out of them, so I’m sure there will be plenty of students that will feel the benefits of this partnership over the coming years.

“Manchester United has a long association with Northern Ireland, with many of the club’s great players coming from this part of the world and a loyal supporter base, too. I’m proud to see the Foundation continuing to build on that with this partnership.”

John Shiels, Chief Executive of Manchester United Foundation, said: “It has been fantastic to be here at the Magee Campus to celebrate our partnership with Ulster University. Since starting our work together in 2018, we have collaborated closely with the university and established relationships with schools in the Foyle Learning Community. There have been some magical interactions with the city’s young people who have all continued to shine despite the challenges of the past few years. The character of the children and young people of Derry-Londonderry is something the city should be commended for.

“There are lots of exciting plans taking shape which will ensure that the partnership continues to grow over the next few years, allowing us to provide even greater opportunity and experiences for the children and young people involved.”

Katrina Crilly, Principal of Oakgrove College, commented: “We have been working with Ulster University and the Manchester United Foundation over the last number of years. Each year, the partnership has grown in terms of the number of pupils who have had the opportunity to get involved. For these students, it has been an excellent opportunity for them to develop a range of skills.

“While qualifications continue to be important to our students in terms of their career, it is becoming increasingly obvious that pupils need more than that. Skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication and problem-solving are vital for the holistic development of our students which they need to be successful in the world of work. In this respect, the partnership has challenged and empowered our students to develop these skills in a unique, engaging and interactive manner that was never available to them before.

“The partnership has given our students experiences that they will never forget, the activities, the people they have met and the relationships they have formed with the amazing staff, who have gone out of their way to make sure this has been a rewarding experience for our students. We are very grateful as a school community to have participated in this partnership and we know that our students will carry both the learning and the memories with them through life.”

For more information on the Ulster University and Manchester United Foundation Schools Outreach programme, visit www.ulster.ac.uk/flexible-education/schools/manchester-united