Tommy retires after 39 years at Rosemount RC

For the last 39 years, Tommy McCourt has been working at the heart of the Rosemount community as manager of the local Resource Centre.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 9:49 am
Group pictured at the official opening of the newly built Rosemount Resource Centre yesterday afternoon are, from left, Sharon McCullough, DfC, Robbie Clarke, DfC, Bronagh Donnelly, Chairperson, Rosemount Resource Centre, Colr. Brian Tierney, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Eileen Kivlehan, Deputy Chairperson, Rosemount Resource Centre, and Pauline Mellon, Deputy Chairperson, Rosemount Resource Centre. DER2118GS – 021

Tommy, who retired on his 73rd birthday yesterday, said it will be very hard to take a step back but said he is ‘very proud’ of all the Rosemount Resource Centre has achieved over the last four decades.

Tommy’s retirement comes as a new centre was officially opened and he said it is time for a ‘new era’ for the organisation.

“We now have a super building that can be developed with new projects. There are so many new requirements for the centre that weren’t there when I first started, it was very much flying by the seat of your pants.

The Mayor of Derry and Strabane Colr. Brian Tierney presents a gift to Tommy McCout, Manager of Rosemount Resource Centre,yesterday afternoon to mark his retirement after serving the community for over 30 years. Photos: George Sweeney / Derry Journal. DER2118GS – 019

“I think it needs a different style of management now and the opening of the new building will be a new era for the Resource Centre. It is time for someone more energetic, with a new dynamic to step into the arena and use the resources we have built up.”

Tommy has been involved with the Rosemount Resource Centre from the outset, initially as a welfare rights officer.

“The original impetus for the establishment of the Rosemount District Welfare Rights Group was the bombing of the former Gwyn’s Institute in the 70s.

“There was a recognition that there was absolutely nothing for people in the local community. Rosemount has been known for a long, long time as ‘the village’ and it was seen as almost separate to the rest of the city, as an enclave behind the Bog and at the side of Creggan.

“Back then there was very little effort or concentration of resources around this area. When the group was set up the intention was to try and give people information and support.”

However, as time went on the Resource Centre’s remit expanded to meet the community’s needs.

“It has always been very community driven and any of the projects that were developed here were as a response to what the people were telling us they needed.”

Under Tommy’s management the Treehouse Playgroup was set up, environmental initiatives established and training and employment provided through the ACE schemes.

From its humble beginnings in an unused cabin in Baldrick Crescent, Rosemount Resource Centre moved to its current site in the late 1990s and Tommy said the new building would have been ‘unimaginable’ in the early days of the organisation.

Tommy’s retirement celebration was combined with the official opening of the new centre and the launch of a time capsule project, which has received messages from local schools, the Bishop Donal McKeown, local politicians and even the President Michael D Higgins.

“I was kept in the dark about most of what was happening,” Tommy said. “We have had to limit the number of people who could attend due to the Covid situation or we could have had hundreds of people I have had dealings with over the years!

“That will be something to look forward to in the future once the restrictions are relaxed.”

While he is retiring from management, Tommy said it will be hard to step back after four decades.

“I’m not completely cutting my ties and if I can help in any way, even in a voluntary capacity, I will.

“It will be hard to take a step back, because it is a small area and personnel are almost on 24 hour call and I don’t think that that is going to disappear overnight.

“I am very proud of all that the centre has achieved during my time, it has provided support structures to this community and the workforce has been a credit from the day and hour it was set up.”

More pictures page 22.