THE BUBBLY was flowing .... and from a great height.

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It was poured over a section of the new £7.5 million further education building on the main campus of West Suffolk College, in Bury St Edmunds, today, for the topping out ceremony.

Around 35 guests, including college governors and representatives from the contractors ISG and architects Pick Everard, accompanied principal Dr Ann Williams, who is in the last year at the college, to see her ceremonially fix the last section of fascia capping and “christen” the building with champagne.

She said: “This topping out means we are under starters orders.”

The building is expected to be formally handed over by the contractors at the end of May or early June who gave guests a guided tour.

The main entrance to the college site has been redesigned to lead visitors to a reception area in the new building which will provide a gateway to the college, including complete remodelling of the frontage on Out Risbygate.

The FE building will also house student services facilities, recreational space and more than 20 new classrooms and staff rooms.

Dr Williams, said: “I have to say that, for me personally, in my last year at the college, I see this as an incredibly important building. The vista of Suffolk House, which has been reclad, the new sign at the front of the college, which has exceeded my expectations, and the new building will be the view which greets our visitors.

“For me this is a building about the future of the college and about the future for our 16 to 18 year old students, because that is the building they will use. The new building is prominent, it is modern and it is exactly what West Suffolk College needs.

“None of this happened without a huge amount of effort and I would like to start by thanking our governors for having the ambition, the appetite and the focus on the college’s future, because it is a lot of extra work and needs a lot of dedication from everybody who is involved in this to take the College forward in the right direction and to continue that push when we are not seeking external funding for this.

“I would like to thank Richard Carter, our chairman of governors, for driving this forward and also in particular Alan Gordon-Stable, the chair of accommodation, and Rob Millais, the chair of finance, because without those two working together and saying ‘This is the future; this is where we are going’ it wouldn’t have happened.’

“Two other people on the college staff I would particularly like to mention are deputy principal David Howells and project manager Julia Moore who have done a lot of the work.”

Mr Carter added: “This building is a new landmark, not just for the college but for the town. I believe it puts the college on a footing with the Cathedral or the borough offices – the key institutions of the town. It makes a huge statement about the college, and I think that is something very special both for us, inside looking out, and for the town looking at us.

“It is going to be very much the hub for our Further Education activities.

“This building forms part of a long and forward-looking development strategy.

“Last year we opened The Milburn Centre – a £3 million investment from our own resources – converting the former light bulb factory into an outstanding construction facility. We have got this project which has taken the best part of £7.5 million from our own resources.

“Last night the Accommodation Strategy Committee put its weight behind a £9 million build, which we will be looking for government support for, for a new Engineering Centre at the back of the site. When that goes up, it will provide really first class, modern facilities for students in that very important sector for the region and the economy.

“I am delighted that we have got this far with the new building. I would like to thank ISG for the work that they have done and the way they have got on with this. Last night we were told that there are 12 weeks till the end of the project. I have every confidence that they are going to do it.

“I would also like to thank Pick Everard, our advisers and designers on this, who have maintained a very close relationship with us as the client and with ISG the contractor. It is so important that relationships work on projects like this.”

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