13 young people from across Greater Belfast and Lisburn have been recognised in a special reception hosted by the Lord Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Councillor Tim Morrow.
The young people, aged between 13 and 17, are the first group to complete the Motorbike Awareness Project, an initiative championed by the MCE Ulster Grand Prix to encourage the safe use of off-road motorbikes.
The educational cross community pilot scheme, which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, was funded by the Department of Justice under the Assets Recovery Community Scheme, and supported by the PSNI.
The 12-week programme took place at David Wood House in the MCE Ulster Grand Prix paddock and was delivered by Cornerstone Off-Road Motorcycle Academy.
Learning included a combination of classroom and practical workshop sessions that teach bike safety and riding skills, and participants have all received Certification in Emergency First Aid at Work, a Motor Cycle Union of Ireland Marshal certificate, Basic Maintenance Skills and Basic Riding Skills.
Geoff Wilson, Project Coordinator of the MCE Ulster Grand Prix commented:
“On behalf of Dundrod & District Motorcycle Club, I’d like to thank the Department of Justice and the PSNI for their support in delivering this ground-breaking and, for some participants, life-changing project.
“It has been truly fantastic to see the facilities at the paddock used to educate young people from across our community of the dangers in using off-road motor vehicles on non-designated sites and offering them a safe place in which to channel their interest in bikes.
“I have no doubt that this is just the beginning for this project and look forward to further success and community engagement in other areas across Northern Ireland.
“I would also like to thank each of the participants for their commitment throughout and congratulate them on the successful completion of the project. I wish them every success in the future.
“Who knows…maybe we have a future Michael Dunlop or Guy Martin in our midst!” he added.
Speaking at the presentation, the Lord Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Councillor Tim Morrow, said:
“The Motorbike Awareness Project was established with the aim of reducing the ongoing anti-social problems of illegal, damaging and potentially dangerous use of off-road motor vehicles and thanks to funding from the Department of Justice, the organisers of the MCE Ulster Grand Prix have been able to do just that. To see such a commitment to motorbike safety is commendable and with the excellent facilities available at the Paddock in Dundrod, young people have been provided with a safe environment where they can learn how to ride while being educated in motorbike safety in a positive way.”
Brian Grzymek, from the Department of Justice said: “This pilot scheme is an outstanding example of successful collaborative working between the Department and the community. Working together on schemes such as this, we can help to build a safe community where we respect the law and each other.
“Twelve weeks ago I commended the Ulster Grand Prix and Cornerstone Off-Road Motorcycle Academy for their insight and imagination in developing and undertaking this innovative work. Today I am delighted to congratulate them on the outcome of what has proved to be a genuinely ground-breaking project.
“I particularly congratulate the 13 participants who have undertaken this tough course, in good weather and in bad. They have come out of it with new skills, a greater appreciation of motorcycle and public safety, and with newly forged links to the motorcycle community in Northern Ireland.”