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GENDER EQUALITY: Thornhill College gives warm welcome to Antrim-based firmus energy

FIRMUS energy’s on-going commitment to encouraging more female representation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) roles has taken it to Thornhill College – an all-girls grammar school in Derry-Londonderry – where staff delivered an educational careers talk.

The Antrim-based energy provider is actively working to further promote inclusivity, diversity, and gender equality by showcasing to women the STEM-based roles and opportunities it has to offer.

Breaking down barriers in what is a traditionally male-dominated sector, women now account for over a quarter of firmus energy’s engineering team, with the company’s recent visit to Thornhill College underscoring its mission to advance an open and welcoming workplace culture.

An interactive STEM presentation was delivered to a group of 250 pupils at the all-Girls’ Grammar School, with Technology and Design students joined by those from Year 10 as they will get the chance to select the GSCE subjects they want to focus on in Years 4 and 5 in addition to their core topics.

Olga Pollock – Human Resources Manager and Investors in People lead – and Chantal Hemphill – firmus energy’s Environment, Health, and Safety Manager – led the talk before answering questions about the path pupils should follow to become an engineer.

Their colleagues Adam Slingsby – Learning and Development lead – and Mark Stevenson – Director of Regulations – also provided details on the new Engineering Scholarship that was launched at Ulster University’s Magee campus last month.

Chantal said: “The company is taking some big and important steps as it moves towards a sustainable future using environmentally friendly processes and technologies.

“As well as explaining the qualifications and skills required for certain jobs, pupils also heard about the challenges workers often tend to face as well as the different aspects of their jobs. It was also a fantastic opportunity to talk about the exciting developments currently taking place at firmus energy as it creates sustainable – and environmentally friendly – technologies.”

FIRM FAVOURITES: firmus energy’s Health and Safety Manager Chantal Hemphill, firmus energy’s Learning and Development lead Adam Slingsby, Thornhill College’s Head of Technology and Design Elaine Rooney, pupils Cara Anderson, Sophie Shongo, Leah McClenaghan, Clara Henderson and Anna McLaughlin, firmus energy’s HR Manager Olga Pollock Olga Pollock and firmus energy’s Director of Regulations Mark Stevenson

Olga added: “We would like to thank the school principal, Sharon Mallet, for extending such a warm invitation and for giving us the opportunity to speak to pupils about the many STEM career opportunities that are available to them. Interest levels in what we had to say was very impressive and we hope this visit will go some way to inspiring the next generation of female engineers.”

firmus energy has a long association with Thornhill College; in November 2018, Year 9 pupils were shown around the company’s £3m River Foyle development crossing – the largest drilling project to be undertaken on the island of Ireland at the time. It involved installing a large gas pipe under the River Foyle from Strathfoyle to the former Thornhill College site on the city’s Culmore Road.

To mark the completion of the River Foyle Crossing development, which meant natural gas could be provided to households in Derry-Londonderry, firmus helped to install a time capsule in the school’s grounds the following year. Containing artefacts from 2019, it will be opened in 2069.

Elaine Rooney, the school’s Head of Technology and Design, facilitated the latest visit from firmus energy and said the STEM presentation had proven to be an extremely valuable exercise.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our pupils to learn more about STEM-related careers and to make them aware of some of the exciting opportunities that are available to them,” she said.

Lisa Hunter, who is the Head of Careers at Thornhill College, added: “With women and girls under-represented in STEM – both in higher education and professions – we were delighted to welcome firmus energy to help our students explore potential STEM career areas.”

If your school or college would like to receive a careers talk from a member of firmus energy’s Learning and Development staff, please get in touch by calling 0330 024 9000. Alternatively, please send an e-mail with your details to    

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