Topping Out Ceremony at FVC’s new Falkirk Campus

Topping Out Group

Topping Out Ceremony at FVC’s new Falkirk Campus

Forth Valley College and Balfour Beatty celebrated the half-way point of the new-build Falkirk Campus with a special ‘Topping Out' ceremony on Friday 28 September.

The landmark date on the build also gave an opportunity for Balfour Beatty to reveal the positive Social Value statistics showing the benefits the project has provided for the local community, through various initiatives.

The ceremony also marked the official launch of the new Community Viewing Window, which allows visiting groups and passing members of the public to safely view the progress on the build through a perspex window in the perimeter fence.

Forth Valley College Principal Dr Ken Thomson, Ross Martin Chair of the Forth Valley College Board of Management and Trudi Craggs FVC Board Member joined Hector MacAulay, Balfour Beatty’s Regional Managing Director for Scotland and Ireland from Balfour Beatty and around 80 invited guests for the ceremony.

Stewart MacPhail, Balfour Beatty’s Senior Project Manager on the site led the proceedings which saw a short final concrete pour, a small local evergreen tree attached to the highest point of the metal structure and a toast taken from specially engraved quaichs, all as a piper played.

It is understood that Viking invaders brought the Topping Out custom to Britain from Scandinavia, though its early origins could date back to ancient Egypt and the pyramids. Scandinavian mythology of the era often represents human life coming from trees and returning to them at death. It is believed that this ceremony was supposed to symbolise the unity between man and nature.

In Scotland, the ceremony has evolved to include an old Highland tradition, the passing of a Quaich. This ceremonial two-handed cup is used to toast the building, as it is ceremonially handed over from the builder to the occupant; a toast traditionally with whisky is made (although Health and Safety observations now mean that the toast may be little more than apple juice!).

Forth Valley College Principal, Dr Ken Thomson, said: “This Topping Out ceremony is a landmark moment for Forth Valley College and we are delighted with the progress Balfour Beatty have made over the last year. It was great to see the evergreen branch attached to the highest point of the build to officially recognise the completion of the main structure and we are now excited to see our completed campus a year from now.

“Our £78million new Falkirk Campus will provide the headquarters for the College and will offer an impressive range of state-of-the-art learning environments and when complete it will be one of the most innovative further education institutions in the country in both design and the programmes we offer.

“There will be clear links to local employment opportunities with a strategic focus on STEM provision, Health Care and Sport with the potential for national and international delivery – indeed, we plan to be recognised as a global centre of excellence for STEM. It is set to help to make learning work for generations to come.”

Ross Martin, Chair of the Forth Valley College Board of Management, said: “The Topping Out ceremony is a landmark moment for a landmark building. Our new college facilities, located at the main Gateway to Falkirk, under the watchful eyes of the iconic Kelpies, are the anchor investment for the redevelopment of the town, just as our other two excellent campuses have proven to be in Alloa and Stirling, similarly helping them to make their contributions to our regional economy.

“From the top of the emerging building we are able to look out across Falkirk, and consider how best to engage the communities we serve, making our world class facilities accessible and available through courses and activities which best prepare our people to develop themselves and this place many of us call home, the Forth Valley.” 

Hector MacAulay, Balfour Beatty’s Regional Managing Director for Scotland and Ireland, said: “We are proud to be working with Forth Valley College to deliver this state-of-the-art learning and teaching facility. At project outset, we committed to making a real and sustainable difference to the local community. Over the past year we have honoured that commitment, spending £4.4 million with our local supply chain partners and delivering over 3,000 apprentice working hours.

“We are looking forward to continuing our close working relationship with Forth Valley College to complete the scheme, providing over 2,000 students in Falkirk with a stimulating and exciting study environment.”

 New Falkirk Campus Social Value statistics:

  • Social enterprise running onsite catering
  • Social Value spend on local labour - £4.4m
  • 3,133 apprentice hours worked to date
  • 111 hours spent in in local schools
  • 108 weeks worked by graduates
  • Total Social Value delivered to date - £6,248,304

Work officially began on the new £78 million Falkirk Campus on Friday 10 November 2017, when Scotland’s Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville, used a digger to cut the first section of turf at the Middlefield site.

The new campus - which is earmarked for completion in November 2019 - will complete FVC’s ambitious estates programme which saw their £21 million Alloa Campus opened in 2011 and their £29 million Stirling Campus opened a year later. The Scottish Government is investing £65 million in the construction of the new campus.

The new Falkirk HQ will focus heavily on training facilities designed for science and technology, engineering, sport and healthcare, and will have state-of-the-art provision and capabilities to accommodate a wide range of FVC’s courses.

Unique facilities will include, world class laboratories, a process training rig, transmission training centre, distillation plant, virtual control room, mini rig, biotechnology centre, sports centre and front of house training salons for hairdressing and beauty – all of which will offer exceptional learning experiences.

With a progressive approach to learning and teaching there will also be state-of-the-art classrooms, flexible spaces across the campus and highly advanced technology throughout. Other facilities will include a first class learning resource centre, food outlets, conferencing and sports facilities.

FVC Falkirk Topping Out ceremony 2
FVC Topping Out ceremony 1
Ceremonial signing
Toast 1
Toast 2
Ross and Trudi with Quaichs
Community Viewing Window (1)


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