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Gloucestershire Business News

Smart-tech £6.2million residence opened at National Star College

A £6.2million high-tech residence has been opened at National Star College to support young students with disabilities.

The buildings at the Ullenwood campus in Cheltenham have been designed to enable those with complex needs to be more independent and to enhance their learning.

The new residence includes Bradbury House, Scott House and Ingram Discovery Rooms, a 'smart house' assessment suite equipped with AI equipment such as a talking fridge.

The suite will trial independent living and demonstrate technology that will help students learn to live more independent lives while at college.

The buildings have wide corridors and the 13 bedrooms have specialist overhead tracking hoists to make it easy for students to transfer out of their wheelchairs and ensuite facilities.

The Building a Brighter Future buildings were opened by Rachel Mason and Jack Thorne, supporters of the Cheltenham-based charity which is a specialist college for disabled people.

Rachel, who grew up in Cheltenham, is an agent representing comedy acts such as Daisy May and Charlie Cooper.

Jack has written for TV and stage including the BBC's His Dark Materials, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, Enola Holmes, and currently The Motive and The Cue at The National Theatre.

He said: "A lot of places use terms like life-changing, very few live up to it.

"My son and I are reading Harry Potter and so are obsessed with finding the magical in life. National Star is magical. For its residents, students and staff, it's magical. It transforms. It changes lives.

"National Star is a place that hinges on freedom and these new buildings today are a prime example of the excellence of that creed. They are using technology to further release further the individual brilliance of these students and residents here."

The charity raised £3.1 million for the new development and received support from The Julia & Hans Rausing Trust, Edward Gostling Foundation, The MariaMarina Foundation, The Bradbury Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and St James's Place Charitable Foundation.

The remaining £3.1 million came from a legacy, the sale of the charity's Gloucester accommodation, Elizabeth House, and a top-up from the charity's reserves.

Peter Horne, deputy chief executive at National Star, said: "We are enormously grateful to all those individuals, businesses, trusts, and foundations who have been so generous with their support.

"This new accommodation will improve the lives of young people with complex physical and learning disabilities and create stimulating spaces to live, learn and relax in, enabling them to get the most out of the life enhancing opportunities that National Star offers."

The accommodation was designed by Cheltenham architects Coombes Everitt and constructed by regional contractor Speller Metcalfe.

Other businesses involved in the project included Burnley Wilson Fish, SF Planning, MHP Design, David Smith Associates, APA Construction Consultancy and Nuttall Engineering.

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