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3,000 bursary grant boost for budding Strabane chef.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

A TALENTED Strabane student studying hospitality and catering has been awarded a 3,000 pot of cash to assist his training.

Conan Conwell, a student at the North West Regional College (NWRC), receievd the bursary grant from the Acorn Fund and has chosen his college lecturer to become his mentor.

He is one of 10 people who has received an Acorn Inspire Bursary from the Acorn Fund.

It is awarded to young people with different levels of ability who wish to pursue training and mentor support in an arts or culture discipline.

Conan, who has just completed a Level 3 course in hospitality and catering, has selected award-winning chef and NWRC lecturer, Emmett McCourt, to help to guide him to a career in the food industry.

The 22-year-old,who suffers from a heart condition and epilepsy, revealed that the valuable career guidance and inspiration Mr McCourt has given him to date led to him selecting the NWRC lecturer as his mentor.

He said: "From my first day at NWRC I built up a rapport with Emmett. He gave me the opportunity to experience so many things in hospitality and catering.

"My medical condition means I am unable to drive myself, however with Emmett I have been able to travel around Ireland and learn so much about food culture and heritage.

"It has been an unbelievable experience and has allowed me to get so much exposure at different culinary events. The bursary has also allowed me to meet so many new people," he said.

Looking ahead to the future, Conan continued: "I'm planning to use the mentorship programme to travel as much as I can.

"I believe that the best way to learn something is to experience it. Next year Emmett and I hope to visit India and learn as much as I can about the food culture over there."


His lecturer who has just returned from a trip to Toronto, Canada, with Tourism Ireland where he helped to showcase the superb culinary offering in Northern Ireland said he believed Conan was a young man who was going places.

Mr McCourt added: "I was overwhelmed when Conan approached me and asked me to be his mentor.

"As a lecturer at NWRC I am passionate about empowering young people and guiding them into careers in the hospitality industry.

"I have never met anyone who works as hard as Conan, he is determined and is completely reliable. He thoroughly deserves this award and I am delighted to be able to guide him through his journey to learning about the culinary significance of food across the globe.

"Conan has shown real triumph through adversity and his success at winning the Acorn Inspire Bursary is testament to this.

"Next week I will be travelling to India with NWRC as part of the Erasmus+ project. I hope to set up opportunities for Conan to undertake work placement while I am there."


Shauna Kelpie, Acorn Fund development officer said the programme had been established to support young people like Conan to fulfil their talent and ambition for the future. He wished the Strabane student every success for the future. "

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