Visionary Jim’s name will live on at the Waterfront

IPSWICH: The legacy of a ‘visionary’ council chief will live on in the area of Ipswich that he helped to regenerate.

James Hehir, the former chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, sadly died last year aged 61.

But today University Campus Suffolk (UCS) announced that their newest building is to be named after him.

The six-floor building, which cost �21million to build, will be opened to students next January and will contain a range of specialist teaching facilities.

These will include clinical skills labs, physiology and sports science labs, an iLab, a student union as well as general teaching and study space.

It stands next to the 600-bed student resident Athena Hall, which opens in September and is less than a quarter of a mile from the main campus building.

Today, tributes were again paid to Mr Hehir, who had been chief executive at the borough council for 20 years.

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Colin Riordan, chairman of the UCS Board and vice-chancellor at the University of Essex, said: “James was a huge friend to University Campus Suffolk and worked tirelessly to get us established.

“He had the knack of bringing the right people together and refusing to accept that things couldn’t be done.

“The James Hehir Building will be a fitting tribute to a man whose vision and commitment were crucial to the future of higher education in Suffolk.”

The three party leaders of Ipswich Borough Council, councillors Liz Harsant, Andrew Cann and David Ellesmere said in a joint statement: “This is very welcome news.

“James was a visionary and without him we would probably not even have a university, let alone the stunning developments around it on the Waterfront.

“James was passionate about Ipswich and passionate about education and the new James Hehir Building will recognise that long into the future.”

The Hehir family, James’s widow, Sally, and their children Emily, Lucy and Sam, said: “We are very touched by this tremendous tribute to James.”

Mrs Hehir added: “When James and I met, we were studying A levels at Suffolk College, Civic College of old, and used to enjoy walking around the docks.

“Since those days, as anybody who knew him would agree, he was passionate about the development of the Waterfront and we were fortunate to see the tremendous improvements made over the past few years.

“At the same time, he was keen to promote university status in Ipswich so people young and old could benefit from high educational standards without having to leave the area.

“He enjoyed working with so many inspirational people to bring about these achievements.

“I am grateful he was able to see the fruition of all these efforts and the completion of the new University Campus Suffolk.

“He would have been so proud of the new development bearing his name and would have wished all staff and students ongoing success in the future.”

n What do you think of the plans to name the building after Mr Hehir and do you want to pay tribute to him? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

IPSWICH: Work on the new James Hehir building at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) is progressing quickly.

The building is planned to be opened to students in January next year and so far everything is on schedule.

The six-floor complex will contain a range of specialist teaching facilities.

These will include clinical skills labs, physiology and sports science labs, an iLab, a student union as well as general teaching and study space.

Climbing to the top of the building, I was able to view every floor as work was being carried out.

Each floor is certainly very spacious. There is certainly going to be enough room for students to manoeuvre when they arrive.

Some of the lab rooms are partially kitted out and again the facilities appeared very spacious.

The view from the top floor of the building is absolutely stunning. This floor will initially be used as offices, but this role may change in the future.

The staff here will certainly have an office with a view. The rooms look out right across the Waterfront and beyond.

You can even make out the Orwell Bridge in the far distance. Whoever ends up working on this floor is in for a treat.

The building will be right next a brand new 600-bed halls of residence, Athena Hall, meaning that students will have a very short walk from the rooms and into seminars.

Caroline Waters, communications and marketing manager for UCS, said: “There is room on the site for the possibility of extra buildings being constructed in the future.

“However, this will depend on how the university develops over time.”