A new education and heritage centre being built at Ravenhill as part of a £14.7 million redevelopment of the ground will be called ‘The Nevin Spence Centre’ in memory of the highly talented young Ulster Rugby player who died in a farming accident along with his brother Graham and father Noel in September last year.
The new centre will exist to promote the qualities that Nevin Spence embodied, namely a healthy lifestyle and sporting excellence.
Housed in the new Memorial End Stand, The Nevin Spence Centre will contain interactive and audio-visual content and will enable visitors to explore the history of rugby in Ulster and the benefits that the game has for supporters, players and society in general.
It will also provide a dynamic stimulus for learning in alignment with the school curriculum and Ulster Rugby’s existing grassroots programmes.
Commenting on the decision, John Robinson, President of the IRFU Ulster Branch, said: ‘I believe that it is entirely fitting that the IRFU Ulster Branch has decided to name the new education and heritage centre at Ravenhill – ‘The Nevin Spence Centre’.
‘This facility will have a special emphasis on visits by young people and will be a testimony to the type of life that Nevin chose to lead and was passionate that others should enjoy.
‘It will be a vibrant centre and will demonstrate the benefits that sport can bring to everyone.
‘The Spence family are very supportive of this decision and I would like to extend my personal thanks for the courtesy they have shown us when we have had discussions with them and visited their home.’
Iain Campbell, Chairman of the Ulster Rugby Supporters Club, added: ‘I am honoured to speak for the thousands of fans who watched with increasing admiration as Nevin progressed through the ranks of our Rugby Academy, to make a massive impact upon the Ulster Rugby squad.
‘We all have very fond memories of great days, great tries, great matches and great victories, with Nevin in the thick of it all.
‘For him to have been so tragically snatched from us in his prime is a sadness that will always remain with us and the dedication of the Nevin Spence Centre to his memory is indeed a great tribute and a mark of the very high regard in which he was held and of all that he had come to mean to the Ulster fans.’
It is envisaged that the Nevin Spence Centre will open in September 2014.