Belfast Telegraph

Methody head in challenging trek to mark school’s 150th anniversary

By Mark Bain

The principal of Methodist College will be on a special walking mission this summer as he follows in the footsteps of the man who laid the foundation stone of the school.

It was on August 24, 1865, that Sir William McArthur - Methody's original benefactor - set the first stone in place for the building of the famous Belfast college.

Principal Scott Naismith will walk from McArthur's home town of Malin, Co Donegal, starting on August 18 - the date of the official opening back in 1868 - and 150 miles later return to the school on the date the foundation stone was laid.

Mr Naismith is aiming to raise at least £15,000 for school funds by completing the week-long challenge which will take him along the north and east coasts of Ireland.

"It's my own idea so I can only blame myself," he said.

"I was looking at the history of the school as we're approaching the anniversary - all the numbers and dates seemed to fit into place to do this.

"I've managed to find a route that's pretty close to 150 miles. And the way the dates fall, it couldn't have worked out better."

The 55-year-old has worked at Methodist College for the past 11 years and is counting on the support of current and past pupils and staff.

"It's all about benefiting the pupils," he said. "It's about progressing the school and building for the future, and that's why the 150th intake of Form 1 pupils will be joining me on the final leg of the walk from the school playing fields at Pirrie Park to Methody on August 24. "We've got a big day planned to start the 150th anniversary celebrations and we'll all be walking into the school grounds together.

"It'll be an early start on the final day.

"I'll be leaving Whitehead about 4.30am as we've got a fair planned from 2-4pm and I'll need to get back for that."

Mr Naismith is no stranger to walking and he regularly hikes in the Mourne Mountains. He has also completed the Camino walk in northern Spain.

"The number of miles I'll be covering a day is a bit daunting though," he admitted, "and I hope it's a bit cooler in August.

"I'd like to thank all at the school for their support so far. I'll see them all on August 24."

"The McArthur Hall building has been refurbished and will be officially opened as the school embarks on its 150th year," added Mr Naismith, "and hopefully this walk will be seen as a fitting tribute to his work in creating a wonderful place of education".

Belfast Telegraph

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