THE Duke of York officially opened a £10.5million East Lancashire technical college yesterday.
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Prince Andrew praised Burnley’s University Technical College, which is backed by Blackburn-based Training 2000, as ‘awe-inspiring’.
He visited the college, part of the historic Weavers’ Triangle in Trafalgar Street, to talk to students and representatives from the Visions Learning Trust.
The UTC, which has capacity for 800 students, welcomed its first intake of 74 pupils last August, and Prince Andrew was given a guided tour of the machinery and equipment available in the college’s engineering workshop.
Unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion, he said: “Today is about this place. It is about you, the people who have worked tirelessly over a long period of time to bring this to fruition, and I think it’s fantastic that you have regenerated the Weavers’ Triangle and used this wonderful mill as your base.
“There is huge room for expansion, and I have been really impressed by the work that’s gone on, so congratulations to everybody who has been behind the project in government, local authorities and the private sector.
“It shows what can be done with an establishment like this. I have been absolutely awe-inspired by what I’ve seen today.
“I wish you all every success as you move on to the wider world. I reckon that you are going to have a serious advantage over many of your colleagues who haven’t had this opportunity.”
Martin Callagher, managing director of the UTC, introduced Prince Andrew, who is an ambassador for skills and enterprise-focused educ-ation, to students working on various engineering projects.
Tom Brigden, 15, from Earby, showed off a 3D printer used to make components for cars.
He said: “Prince Andrew asked me what it was and how it worked. I told him we printed out car wheels for our Formula One project. We’re working towards a competition between schools later this year.”
Steve Gray, chair of the VLT’s board, praised students and parents who opted for the college ahead of the town’s more established schools.
He said: “They’ve taken a leap of faith to come here without any track record, and I think they made the right choice. I’m sure that for the people that come through this facility for many years, this is going to be career-changing.
“I hope that in the future when I go out to ask people in engineering and construction, ‘Where did you start life?’ they say, ‘Visions Learning Trust and Training 2000’. That would be my final check that it’s worked.”
The college was funded by public and lottery money.