A £4.5 million sports hall will provide a new space for the international students of UWC Atlantic College to work together to improve their health, fitness, and wellbeing.
The founding College of the international United World Colleges (UWC) movement was joined by Paralympian, Pippa Britton and philanthropist, Diane Briere de l’Isle, for the official opening of its multi-million pound Moondance Sports Hall.
The Sport Hall’s construction has been in part funded thanks to generous support from the Moondance Foundation, a charity supporting children, education, issues of poverty, medical research, the arts and humanitarian projects.
Seeing this magnificent facility is a dream come true for me and my family – Diane Briere de l’Isle, co-founder of the Moondance Foundation
Speaking at the sports hall’s opening ceremony, Diane Briere de l’Isle, who established the Moondance Foundation with her husband Henry Engelhardt, said: “Seeing this magnificent facility is a dream come true for me and my family. We have been involved with UWC Atlantic College for many years, starting when our first son joined the College as a student in 2004. He was later followed by his siblings.
“We are an international family, and as parents my husband and I know that ensuring access to sport and promoting health and wellbeing to young people is essential for their development. We know from experience that UWC Atlantic College is a special place which centres on taking students out of their comfort zone to challenge them in so many ways that open them to the world. It is an enriching experience, which fills the minds and souls of the students who come here.”
The Moondance Sports Hall represents an extension to the College’s already extensive outdoor co-curricular provision, which embodies the original vision of the College’s founder, German philosopher Kurt Hahn. Its purpose is to encourage personal challenge, service to others, initiative, leadership and teamwork. This is facilitated through a series of physical activities including lifeguarding, kayaking, surfing, mountain walking, emergency first aid and climbing.
Peter T Howe, principal of UWC Atlantic College, said: “Our College of nations seeks to challenge students to push themselves and each other to realise and embrace new ways of thinking and learning. This occurs outside of the classroom as much as it does inside. Many of our co-curricular activities already allow students to test their limits through physical pursuit and this facility will allow them an even greater opportunity to develop and realise their potential.
“On behalf of our deliberately diverse community, we thank all who have made The Moondance Sports Hall a reality.”
The Sports Hall provides students with gym and multiuse facilitates for activities such as basketball, badminton, indoor hockey, handball and dance. Diane Briere de l’Isle continued: “The Moondance Sports Hall will provide a wonderful space for students to build on this experience and relax, exercise and socialise with their fellow students. We are so happy to be able to support the students in this way, and thank all who have made donations and worked to make the new facility possible.”
The opening ceremony was also attended by former Paralympian and UWC Atlantic College alumna, Pippa Britton. Speaking to current students and invited guests of the College, Pippa revealed that her first experience of UWC life was as a young girl learning to swim in the College’s pool.
Pippa was born in the 1960s with Spina Bifida and shortly afterward her parents were told that their daughter would never walk. However, unlike many Spina Bifida children, Pippa did learn to walk by the time she started school, although she learned to swim first. At the time, no public pool would cater for children with her condition, so Pippa turned to UWC Atlantic College.
Pippa, who is chair of Disability Sport Wales, explained the moment she realised that she wanted to be a UWC student occurred as she looked up at the College’s St Donats Castle campus as she learned to swim. She explained: “One of my strongest memories as a child was learning to swim at the College and each time I came up for air I could see the castle on the hill. After the lesson I pointed up at the castle and said that one day I was going to be a student studying there.”
Pippa’s dream became a reality in 1979 and she believes that her experiences as an UWC Atlantic College student taught her never to give up. That mentality was the catalyst of a successful sporting career, which has seen the archer attain numerous medal wins, secure several World Records, and represent her country with Team GB at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 games.