Key figures to discuss stronger, healthier Derry post-COVID 19

More than 100 local leaders from government, business, health, charity and academia sectors will come together via Zoom to hear from expert speakers and discuss how Derry City & Strabane can build a stronger, healthier and more prosperous future in the wake of Covid 19.

The group of experts will take part virtually at the Derry City & Strabane Healthy Cities Conference tomorrow (Wednesday) morning from 10am-1pm.

The conference is a unique opportunity for voices from every sector to get behind the council district’s application for World Health Organisation (WHO) Healthy City status, and to share their vision for the city and district.

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Derry City & Strabane first joined the Healthy Cities Network in 2009. The movement is designed to put health and wellbeing at the centre of local decision-making.

FEBRUARY 2020: Professor Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden project, pictured with others alongside an artistic rendition of the Acorn which will be at the centre of the proposed £67m Eden Project Foyle which has been developed by the River Foyle Gardens charity. Included are, Eamonn Deane, trustee, Clare McGee, Director Innovate-NI, Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project, Dan James Development Director, Eden Project, Gerry Kelly, Trustee, former CEO Apex Housing, Dr. Bernard Toal, Director, Innovate-NI and Dr Ian Mccafferty, Grimshaw Architects. The 250 acre site will be developed along the banks of the River Foyle linking the Boom Hall and Brook Hall estates. Picture Martin McKeown.

WHO is currently taking applications for designation under Phase VII of the programme which runs from 2019 to 2025. Derry City & Strabane previously achieved Phase V (2009-14) and Phase VI (2014-19) Healthy City designation.

Mayor Brian Tierney and Developing Healthy Communities, which co-ordinates the council district’s membership of the WHO Healthy Cities Network, will host the event.

Speakers include: Sir Tim Smit Co-Founder of the Eden Project (pre-recorded); Professor Louise Dubras, Foundation Dean of the School of Medicine at Ulster University; John Harkin, Founder and CEO of Alchemy Technology Services in Derry; Denise Cahill, Healthy Cities Coordinator for Cork City; and Paul Cavanagh, Interim Director of Planning and Commissioning for the Health and Social Care Board.

The Mayor said: “When it comes to the past year, one topic has dominated all of our thoughts and concerns, but as a council district, alongside fighting a global pandemic, we have been making moves that will build Derry City & Strabane’s health and resilience for the long term, like the £250m City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund, and the North West Greenway Network.

“The WHO Healthy Cities programme allows us to see our city and district in the context of an international network of cities that face many similar challenges to us. Achieving Phase VII Healthy City designation will be a point of pride and an acknowledgment of our capacity to work together to deliver a great place to live for everyone.”

Developing Healthy Communities Chief Executive Erin McFeely said: “Being part of the WHO Healthy Cities Network offers us the opportunity not only to learn from others internationally, but also to showcase some of the innovative and ground-breaking work that is already happening here locally.

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“At the Healthy Cities Conference we are giving local leaders from every sector a place to make connections, share their vision and get inspired about the potential of Derry City & Strabane as a healthy, thriving city and district.”

Sir Tim Smit is best known for his achievements in Cornwall. He ‘discovered’ and then restored ‘The Lost Gardens of Heligan’ with John Nelson, which is now one of the UK’s best loved gardens.

Tim is Executive Vice-Chair and Co-founder of the multi award-winning Eden Project in Cornwall and has been instrumental in the plans for a massive 250 acre Eden type Project along the River Foyle.

Prof Louise Dubras was appointed as Foundation Dean of the School of Medicine at Ulster University in June 2018.

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Formerly Deputy Dean of Medical Education at King’s College London for three years, leading the MBBS training approximately 2200 students to become doctors.

John Harkin is the Founder and CEO of Alchemy Technology Services, a global centre of excellence.

John established Alchemy in Derry to help drive the socio/economic recovery of the north west region.