Ceremony marks official opening of Haywards Heath College
Haywards Heath College was officially declared open at a ceremony last week.
Susan Pyper, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, officially opened the college alongside dignitaries including MP Gillian Keegan, minister for skills and apprenticeships, and Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies, minister for employment.
Shelagh Legrave OBE, chief executive of the Chichester College Group (CCG), said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to celebrate the official opening of Haywards Heath College today. Colleges have a crucial role to play in education, which is why we are proud to be opening Haywards Heath College and ensuring young people across the Mid Sussex area are able to access high quality educational opportunities.
“It is important to recognise and give our thanks to those who have been so involved in bringing the vision of a college for Mid Sussex to fruition, not least Sir Nicolas Soames who worked so tirelessly to campaign for the college, and our colleagues at Mid Sussex District Council and Coast to Capital, who have supported us through our journey to today.
“We are now looking forward to working with students, local residents, employers and our community to ensure this will be a college they can be rightly proud to call their own.”
In his speech, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames reiterated his thanks to the many colleagues who had enabled the college to open, especially the district council. He also noted that the college was a vital part of the local community and said how delighted he was to be able to join the official opening and see all of the hard work come to fruition.
Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies said: “It is hugely pleasing to see Haywards Heath College again open and welcoming students. I recently joined the new principal and staff team and was so impressed by the refreshed facilities and courses back on offer despite the additional COVID-19 challenge.
“This has been a hard fought road to re-opening and I greatly thank all those who have brought this essential local provision back on-stream for the great benefit of this cohort of students and many generations of future learners to come.”
The college received £1.2million Local Growth Funding from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The grant was used to support the refurbishment and development of the campus, including buying specialist equipment for the college’s science labs, as well as furnishing the library and Learning Resource Centre.
Over the past 18 months, CCG has been working closely with local MPs, the district council, West Sussex County Council and other regional stakeholders to ensure the new college meets local needs.
Katie Nurcombe, head of corporate affairs at Coast to Capital, unveiled one of the dedication plaques at the college.
She said: “I am delighted to celebrate the opening of Haywards Heath College with partners today.
“The college will play a central role supporting the recovery from the impact of COVID-19 with the best quality skills support for young people.
“Supporting young people is fundamental to helping us to achieve our vision to build back stronger, smarter and greener to create a fantastic place to live, grow and succeed.”
MP Gillian Keegan, minister for apprenticeships and skills, said: “I was honoured to attend the opening of Haywards Heath College and to see first-hand the fantastic facilities on offer to the students, which I know will make a real difference to the local community and beyond.
“It is so important that young people are able to access the skills, education and support they need to go on to have successful careers, and FE colleges are at the heart of this.”
Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, leader of the district council, added: “I am delighted that all the hard work our council along with Sir Nicholas and our current MP, Mims Davies, put into ensuring that further education for young people is available on their doorstep in Mid Sussex has finally come to fruition.
“Everybody at Mid Sussex District Council send our best wishes to all the staff and students of Haywards Heath College which will have our unwavering support for many years to come.”