Belfast City Airport celebrates IGNITE celebration

Posted By:
George Best Belfast City Airport

6th Jul 2021

Belfast City Airport teamed up with local radio personality and Cinemagic ambassador, Pete Snodden, to celebrate the graduation of eighteen students from the airport’s annual IGNITE programme.

IGNITE, first launched in 2019 by Belfast City Airport in partnership with Cinemagic, is a youth leadership initiative aimed at providing 100 young people with life changing opportunities over a five-year period.

41 participants from secondary schools and higher education colleges across Greater Belfast have now completed the programme, not only developing valuable employability and life skills, but also gaining an NLP Diploma in Personal and Career Development.

Despite the challenges of the past year, where the programme was delivered virtually in line with government guidance and with an extra focus on building mental-resilience, Michelle Hatfield, Director of Corporate Services at Belfast City Airport, feels the programme was a resounding success.

She commented:

“Community and education form two core strands of Belfast City Airport’s Corporate Responsibility strategy and we are extremely proud of IGNITE, our flagship programme, as it helps the young people of Northern Ireland fulfil their aspirations and realise their full potential.

“While 2020 was a year like no other, moving the classes to an online format meant that we were not only able to continue providing an educational programme but also a platform where young people could socialise and feel a sense of purpose and togetherness at a time when isolation was a real worry for us all.”

Adapting to an online format meant participants on year two of the IGNITE programme could hear from an array of VIPs from right across the world, including Senior Vice President of HBO and Game of Thrones producer, Jay Rowe, TV and radio presenter Dermot O’Leary, and Olympic swimmer and Commonwealth champion, Chris Cooke.

Michelle continued:

“The calibre of guest speakers who joined us remotely and workshops was fantastic this year and the students really thrived off that.

“The graduation event, which we were able to hold face to face at Stormont Pavilion in line with guidance, was a memorable occasion for all involved and it was a pleasure to celebrate both the achievements of the participants and the overall success of the programme.”

Alongside eighteen individual diplomas to students from Aquinas Grammar School, Belfast Met, Campbell College, Christian Brother’s Grammar School, Dominican College, St. Louise’s, Strathearn School, and Wellington College, Belfast City Airport presented special merit awards to Shayna Velasquez, Jack Walker, Joseph Hinchcliffe, and Saya Caddy for outstanding contribution and dedication throughout the programme.

All graduates were also gifted £600 of flight vouchers from Belfast City Airport as a consolation for the educational trip to Los Angeles, planned to culminate the programme, being cancelled due to ongoing travel restrictions.

Speaking of the success of year two of the IGNITE programme in partnership with Belfast City Airport, Joan Burney Keatings, Chief Executive at Cinemagic, added:

“We want to wish a big congratulations to all of the young people that have graduated with this year’s IGNITE class of 2021.

“Each participant was enthusiastic, passionate, and eager to learn, and the difference in their self-confidence and determination from September 2020, when we began, to now is remarkable.

“Cinemagic welcomes the opportunity to provide young people with the chance to develop real skills, explore opportunities, and reaffirm their belief in what they want to do and their own ability to achieve it, and is the perfect partner for IGNITE and Belfast City Airport as it strives to do the same.”

To find out more information about the IGNITE Youth Leadership programme, please visit: