ASHFORD COLLEGE

First of Ashford's Big 8 to 'top out' - 28th Sep

Ashford College held a Topping Out Ceremony on Friday 23rd September to celebrate construction of the new-build college reaching roof height - the first of Ashford’s Big 8 projects to reach this advanced stage.

Ashford College, which is part of the Hadlow Group, is due to open to students in September 2017.

The Topping Out concluded with a blessing of the new building by the Reverend John MacKenzie, Team Rector Ashford Town.

Students from Ashford College presented bouquets to The Mayoress of Ashford, Mrs Gloria Champion; the High Sheriff of Kent, Mrs Kathrin Smallwood; Mrs Rose Clarkson, the wife of the Leader of Ashford Borough Council and Mrs Tracey Kerly, the CEO of Ashford Borough Council.

A bay tree was presented to BAM Construction Ltd to be planted in the college grounds.

Damian Green, Conservative Member of Parliament for Ashford and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, fitting a visit into his very tight schedule, said:

“The ceremony marked a great day not just for education in Ashford but for the regeneration of the whole Town Centre. I am delighted to see the building which symbolises a new start for Ashford, and a new chance for thousands of young people to gain excellent qualifications which will help them start their working lives with confidence.”

Representing the Kent Lieutenancy, George Jessel spoke of his delight in witnessing the progress of the new Ashford College which has such an important part to play in the county. He said:

“This new campus will give Ashford College students the finest, most modern, best equipped facilities. Combined with outstanding tutors and a caring environment, each and every one of them will be encouraged to achieve their optimum potential.”

Paul Hannan, Principal and CEO the Hadlow Group, unveiling the commemorative plaque said:

“We are here to celebrate construction reaching the top of what will be the wonderful new Ashford College. The first class education and training we are currently providing at the existing Jemmett Road campus will transfer to the wonderful new facilities in September 2017.”

High on the third floor roof, a traditional Topping Out ceremony was conducted by Mark Lumsdon-Taylor for the Hadlow Group. He said:

“The people of Ashford and the surrounding communities have been waiting for their new college for a long time and so the Topping Out ceremony is a real celebration. Ashford College will be located in a wonderfully vibrant part of the town where so much is happening.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Ashford Borough Council and BAM, the construction company, with whom we enjoy excellent relations.

“The support of KCC and the other agencies has been first-class and construction continues to progress remarkably smoothly.”

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said:

“This event marks a significant milestone in the delivery of one of the Council’s Big 8 projects and I am pleased to see this important project coming forward.

“One of the key challenges to economic growth and greater prosperity within the borough is the improvement of the skills base we have locally. The delivery of this project will therefore play its part in supporting improved educational provision in Ashford, improving prosperity for both residents and businesses alike, and supporting a stronger future economy within the area.”

Chris Burden, Construction Manager for BAM Construction South East, said:

“Before starting work on site, we had to demolish the existing buildings. The new campus is currently in progress, with the concrete frame now complete. We are committed to sourcing labour and materials locally where possible and our metalwork contractor is based in Ashford. Many of our supplies have also been sourced within Kent.”

“During the project so far, we have hosted tours for over 100 students from the existing Ashford College and given them an insight into careers in the construction industry. We have also supported the Ashford Mayor’s charities, Carers’ Support and Riding for the Disabled.”

Paul Dubrow, Chair of Governors Ashford Collage, attached a wreath of bay leaves to the top of the building. (Bay, the true laurel, has played a part in Topping Out ceremonies for hundreds of years.) He said:

“This new campus will give Ashford College students the finest, most modern, best equipped facilities. Combined with outstanding tutors and a caring environment, each and every one of them will be encouraged to achieve their optimum potential.”