Ballycopeland: 15 new jobs created for people with disabilities at historic mill site

Ballycopeland Windmill's new staff: Jim Frame, Pietro Amarello, Simon Dobson, John Lyttle, Beth Hagan and Courtney Wilson.

FIFTEEN new jobs have been created for people with disabilities after the opening of a new £1.7 million visitor attraction at the historic Ballycopeland Windmill near Millisle, Co Down.

Ulster Supported Employment Ltd (Usel) is operating the new interpretative centre and ability café in partnership with the Department for Communities.

David Cowan, head of employment services at USEL, said the new initiative is providing valuable jobs for people with disabilities in the area.

“Operating the visitor attraction allows us to create more employment opportunities for people with disabilities or health condition in the hospitality and tourism industry and also bring our award-winning hospitality services to the Ards and North Down area,” he said.

Simon Dobson, one of the chefs at the new facility, added: “Working as a chef with autism has its struggles however with Usel and the ability cafes I am able to show who I am as a person and show what I can do as a chef.”

Built in the late 18th or early 19th century, Ballycopeland is the last working windmill in Northern Ireland. The new interpretative centre celebrates the history of this unique place and brings to life the stories of those who lived and worked there.

The site is now open to the public. In addition to the new heritage visitor centre and café, the refurbishment of the site also includes a new access road with car parking and refurbishment of the miller’s cottage and kilnman’s house.

Funding for the refurbishment included a £1.2m investment from the Department for Communities, with a further £500,000 coming from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ Rural Tourism Fund and £30,000 from Ards and North Down Borough Council.

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