11 September 2018
Foundation trustee and architect George Clarke admitted he was ‘blown away’ by the Beacon of Light during a recent visit to Wearside, his first since the centre opened.
The TV star was a special guest speaker at the Foundation’s annual staff training day where he talked about the features of successful teams alongside Sunderland AFC legend Kevin Ball.
And, following a Q&A session with the charity’s staff, George was given the chance to look around the £20 million Beacon for the first time since construction was completed.
George said: “I’m blown away, to be honest. It’s been unbelievably tough getting here and everyone has had to play a massive part for it to be a success. But we’ve done it.
It’s a really exciting beginning for the Foundation, to have our own home and all the team under one roof. For it to be the standard and quality it is, it’s absolutely fantastic.
“It’s an outstanding facility, it really is. It’s a brilliant place for people to come and work, play, be educated and be inspired.
“Everybody who has been part of the Beacon should be really proud.”
George kicked off the annual Foundation staff training event with former Black Cats’ captain Kevin Ball who looked back on the great teams he’s been part of and how the setback of losing the 1997 Play Off Final inspired Peter Reid’s team to win the Division One title the following season.
Foundation of Light CEO Lesley Spuhler added: “The Beacon of Light is the accumulation of a lot of hard work from a lot of people and it’s good to be able to reflect on that and celebrate this achievement with George and Kevin.
“However, it also represents a new beginning for Foundation of Light and our away day this year was focussed on our future and making sure that people from Sunderland and even further afield get the most from the Beacon of Light.”
The Beacon of Light officially opened in September and houses a 4G football barn, capable of hosting 7-a-side and 5-a-side games, six outdoor 5-a-side pitches, a versatile indoor arena which can also host national sporting competitions, exhibitions and events, and a suite of classrooms, offices and informal learning spaces.
Some of the sessions available to the public at the Beacon of Light include: Men and Women’s health programmes; football pitch hire; basketball, netball and badminton court hire; adult jobseeker and employability programmes; and youth sports coaching.