Arts centre’s generous gift

Film Makers, Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, Derry~Londonderry, January 21
Film Makers, Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, Derry~Londonderry, January 21

A lasting legacy has been gifted to Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart by one of its most ardent patrons.

John Onslow Springhall passed away in 2015 aged 71 and he left a significant proportion of his estate to the facility.

This legacy of £94,500 will be used to support and develop creative learning in the arts centre.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey recently hosted an evening of celebration to mark the inheritance.

She said: “Flowerfield Arts Centre is delighted to accept this very generous gift.

“It’s both an endorsement and an absolute affirmation of the esteemed value in which the centre was held.

“John gave Flowerfield his enthusiastic support and this money will allow his memory to live on.

“We thank him for his magnanimous generosity and his vision in making his request specific to further education through the facility.”

Mr Springhall, who lived in Portstewart, was a renowned author and University lecturer in Coleraine.

He was an enthusiastic supporter of Flowerfield Arts Centre from its inception in 1980 when it became the first arts centre to open in Northern Ireland.

He was a regular patron and had a particular interest in jazz concerts with the music genre being one of his passions in life.

With this in mind, the evening of celebration featured music by The Ronnie Greer Jazz Trio.

* Flowerfield Arts Centre was the first, and is considered by many to be, the best Arts Centre in Northern Ireland.

The refurbishment of the centre in 2004 cost slightly over £2,000,000, with close to 75% grant aid.

This refurbishment and extension brought the building to four times its original size and added exciting new facilities, including state of the art teaching spaces, dedicated art galleries and a new 150-seater auditorium.

Flowerfield has been used as a neutral venue for community consultations and meetings.

The centre attracts hundreds of room bookings which have wider community benefit, assist the local economy, facilitate various Council departments, allow discussion on disability issues etc.

In addition, the centre services the arts community and assists with arts-related information for the wider community - providing information, support and guidance with fundraising etc.