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Learners praised by Member of Senedd for work on hospital ship

Sam Rowlands visited the Island Reach, which has been refurbished by volunteers including Coleg Llandrillo marine engineering students

Sam Rowlands, Member of the Senedd for North Wales, has praised Coleg Llandrillo learners who carried out essential repairs on a hospital ship.

Marine Engineering students at the Rhos-on-Sea campus refurbished one of the engines on The Island Reach, before it sets off on a humanitarian mission to Madagascar in April.

Mr Rowlands recently visited the ship and spoke to students in the marine engineering department.

He said: “It is great to see local students getting real hands-on experience by being involved in such a worthwhile cause and helping to repair the hospital ship in preparation for its medical mission to Madagascar.

“The Island Reach, which is currently moored in Conwy, has attracted a lot of attention since it first moved to the harbour and I am sure many of us will be delighted to hear the ship will soon be on its way.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in helping get the ship ready to sail with a special mention to the college’s marine engineering department and its students.”

The Island Reach, owned by Christian charity ‘Youth With a Mission’ (YWAM), will head to the African island in April to provide much-needed medical aid.

One of its main purposes will be to provide dental care, with only one dentist for every 150,000 people in the most remote parts of Madagascar.

An ex-Naval supply ship, the Island Reach is well-suited for travelling up rivers and small inlets, meaning it can reach communities which are extremely difficult to get to via other forms of transport.

The 24-metre vessel has been fitted with a fully equipped dental suite, doctor’s consultation area, well-stocked pharmacy and dispensing area, eye examination and surgical unit, and cabins for medical staff.

It is currently moored in Conwy, where it has been completely overhauled by volunteers, including students and staff from Coleg Llandrillo’s Marine Engineering department.

The ship’s captain, Jeremy McWilliam, said: “MV Island Reach based in Conwy Harbour was very grateful for the help and support it received from Llandrillo College for the refit of the vessel into a humanitarian medical facility bound for Madagascar in April this year.

“We would like to thank the marine engineering department for their assistance in removing one of our generators, servicing and repairing it in the college facility – in addition to this, returning the generator and refitting it to the vessel where it is now working well.

“Students from the college also assisted with many smaller jobs in the ship’s engine room, carrying out servicing, cleaning and repair jobs. Should we moor any more of our vessels in Conwy we very much look forward to continuing this working relationship.”

Want to work in Marine Engineering? Click here to find out more about Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Marine Technology courses.