Sunderland College has today helped ensure the Olympic legacy lives on by starting work on two new multi-million pound academies.
There to lend a hand was one of the stars of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Josef Craig MBE.
The teenage swimming sensation and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year put the first spade in the ground signalling the start of work on what will become centres of excellence for sports and the performing arts.
The state-of-the-art facilities will be built at Sunderland College’s, Durham Road, Bede campus and are expected to be open to students from across the North East in September 2014.
The build is part of Sunderland College’s commitment to quality and ensuring it provides student with the best facilities in the North East.
Sunderland College Principal Anne Isherwood said: “Today is a great day for the College and education in the North East.
“It’s a very exciting time with a lot happening across the College and I know everyone is eager to see these facilities completed and being used by students.
“Sunderland College has a reputation for providing high quality education and a strong mix of courses, the development of our facilities strengthens our offer for students.”
Josef, 16, from Jarrow, won the gold medal in the 400 metre freestyle swimming event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
He said: “Sport is a huge part of my life and something I’m extremely passionate about.
“Winning gold at the Paralympics was the best feeling ever and something I had worked so hard towards. I want everyone to have the opportunity to feel that way.
“I firmly believe people should be encouraged to follow their dreams and become the best that they can be and I hope these new centres will ensure that happens.”
The facilities will be some of the best in the UK and will include a sports science laboratory, fitness suites, a treatment room, a four court sports hall and studios for dance, drama, music, media and photography.
After lifting the first sod of earth Josef handed over the project to developer BAM Construction.
Each of the three-storey buildings will include sustainability features such as locally sourced materials, photovoltaic panels, the maximisation of natural light and natural ventilation.
It’s also expected the build will create a number of apprenticeship opportunities for students at Sunderland College.
BAM Project Manager Jason Kelly said: “We are delighted to be building these important facilities for Sunderland College.
“These buildings will provide state-of-the-art teaching and learning spaces for Sunderland, as well as making the Bede Campus more aesthetically pleasing and practical.
“We will also be working to ensure the project benefits the local environment, economy and community.”
Photo caption: (L-R) Paralympic star Josef Craig, Sunderland College Principal Anne Isherwood, and BAM Project Manager Jason Kelly.