The late Nevin Spence’s family said that they were humbly honoured to have a state-of-the-art educational centre named after him at the revamped Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
The former Ulster and Ireland Wolfhounds star was tragically killed along with his brother Graham and father Noel in a slurry tank accident at the family’s farm near Hillsborough in County Down nearly three years ago.
The centre was officially opened by the Northern Ireland Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and the ceremony was attended by Nevin’s mother Essie, and sisters Emma and Laura. It is housed in the Memorial End stand which was constructed as part of a major redevelopment of the old Ravenhill ground.
“It has been an honour to come and see how Nevin’s name has been remembered,” said his sister Emma, a talented artist whose image of her brother is prominently displayed inside the centre.
“Every time somebody walks into Ulster’s ground, they will see his name above the door and it is a privilege that he has been given such a legacy.
“Nevin was special to us, and now we find this centre special.
“I hope when people go there they will learn a bit about Nevin and the character he was.
We have learned very quickly that life is precious and that you have to make the most of life.
“We are just very privileged that Ulster are letting Nevin’s legacy, and the person he was, live on.”
The centre is an education and heritage facility and funded by the Northern Ireland Executive. It contains interactivities and audio-visual content and enables visitors to explore the history of Ulster rugby in Ulster and the benefits that the game has for players, supporters and society in general.
It also includes a bespoke interactive gaming zone, developed in partnership with the Movement Innovation lab in the School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, demonstrates performance and match analysis and features avatars created by staff and students at South West College in Enniskillen.
Visitors can also get a sense of what it is like to kick for goal at Kingspan Stadium by having a go at a kicking challenge in an innovative virtual environment, choose their Ulster Rugby dream-team in an interactive game and watch short films showcasing female rugby, disability rugby mini-rugby and the senior Ulster team.
We are opening a very special centre this morning.. pic.twitter.com/xfTUuVNXtA— Ulster Rugby (at 🏡) (@UlsterRugby) August 27, 2015
A digital Ulster Rugby vault houses hundreds of digital images of team photographs, minute books and reports from over 100 years of rugby in Ulster. The Centre also contains a number of significant historical items including the lion carried by the unbeaten 1974 British and Irish Lions (loaned by Willie John McBride), Dr Jack Kyle’s Ireland jersey (loaned by the Kyle family) and the old Irish interprovincial trophy.
Carál Ní Chuilín said: ” The stadium has, from its inception, placed the community benefits at the very top of the priority list. We have a world-class stadium as the home of Ulster Rugby and a state-of-the-art education centre that will provide our young people with the opportunity to learn about the creative industries.”
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