Originally written February 18th 2020
Today I had a trip down memory lane and what a special place it was.
This time 21 years ago I was studying a BTEC National Diploma in Food Technology in Loughry College Cookstown.
I was 17 and I was planning my Work Placement in Jersey where we would be grading the quality standards of Jersey Royal Potatoes.
Deciding to go to Loughry was my first step out of doing the “alternative” thing and following the herd.
I was an A Grade student and had went back to school along with my friends to do A Levels and decided after 6 weeks that they weren’t for me.
My Teachers & school were disappointed, mum was supportive and life unfolded as it was meant to.
Weeks before receiving a Student Of The Year award. I left school, took a year out and worked, then went to Loughry College the following year. With a June Birthday this put me at the same age as most of my class.
It was the perfect place for me, surrounded by nature, studying subjects that I was passionate about, gaining practical skills and experiences that I still use today.
It was here that I fell in Love.
I fell in love with food, more specifically I fell in love with good quality, local produce.
I fell in love with ingredients and flavours and safe food production.
I fell in love with microbiology and nutrition and how the various system in the body work.
I realised that the Island of Ireland has some of the best quality food in the world. It was here that the seeds for my passion for protecting our food supply chain were sown and nurtured.
It was also here that one Lecturer in particular helped me to see beyond the marketing labels and understand that “good” food was about so much more than calories. (Thank you Ian)
Today the memories and special moments came flooding back. I was visiting with my niece and her friend, I was keen to pass on my love of CAFRE style learning to the next generations. I caught up with some friends and we had a very warm welcome by College Staff who showed us around and explained some of the options that CAFRE Colleges have to offer.
As I reflected on my journey I couldn’t be happier that I made the choices I made.
I truly believe that each step in life is part of a bigger plan.
I was also very aware that we are always in the right place at the right time and the people we meet are part of the journey.
The important thing to also remember is just because it is right doesn’t mean it will be easy, that said my experience has been that there is a reason for it all.
I did my first term in Loughry before mobile phones hit my friend group in Christmas of 1998, how technology has changed in that time.
I reflected on those changes and was also very thankful that many things have remained the same.
The welcome and atmosphere at Loughry was as friendly as ever, the scones were as good as I remember, the signs of spring unfolding were as special as ever.
Autumn and Spring are very special in Loughry. Blue hair nets and white coats are still not a good look.
Whilst on my year out in Loughry I opened a Sandwich Bar and Coffee Shop, a copy from the Press Release that I did for opening reads.
" Whilst studying at Loughry College I came to realise that we have some of the highest quality food ingredients in the world, it is for this reason that I feel by using local suppliers for my products, I am offering my customers not only the freshest but also the best quality products available." We were one of the first businesses in Newry to sell Tortilla Wraps, so I also had to explain what they were. "Filled with your own choice of fillings they offer a tasty and healthier alternative to the traditional sandwich or baguette"
I hope this prompts your own reflection of choices made, paths you have walked and special moments and memories shared and a reminder that now more than ever we need to support our local food producers and local businesses.
Remember when you support local businesses you are supporting some ones dream.
I am delighted to say that Eva is thriving through her study at Loughry and is currently doing a Management Apprenticeship with Moy Park and another of my nieces classmates opted to study Floristry at CAFRE's Greenmount Campus. https://py.linkedin.com/posts/joanne-callan-195a3623_well-done-eva-winters-and-thank-you-to-liz-activity-7029503743662374912-KVpg
If you have a young person in your life who may have received exam results this Blog may also be a helpful read. https://www.trythealternative.net/post/exam-results
Blog Post written by Changing Cycles Founder Joanne Callan