By Alison Andreas, Principal and Chief Executive of Colchester Institute
I moved to Colchester some 27 years ago and by choice have made the town my home – the place where I’ve married, and raised a family – and very happily so! I know that the two young adults, that I am very proud to call my ‘kids’ will always have incredibly fond memories of their education and their upbringing in Colchester.
So I’m delighted to share with you just some of the reasons why the Colchester Ambassadors believe that there really is no better place for your family and business to live and grow.
Less than an hour by train from London, a 45 minute drive to Stansted airport and 20 minutes from Harwich international port, and with improvements on the way for the A12, Colchester is a great base for family and business travel but without the housing price-tag normally associated with such ready access to the capital and major transport hubs.
The Colchester Borough is home to some of East Anglia’s top visitor attractions: Colchester Zoo; Colchester Castle and museum; the magnificent First Site art gallery; the award-winning Mercury Theatre; the much filmed Layer Marney Tower as well as over 2,000 listed buildings; 52 ancient monuments and 22 conservation areas. On our doorstep you’ll find stunning areas of countryside – some made famous by John Constable – miles of beautiful coastline boasting country parks, marinas, and seaside towns with world famous oysters, yacht clubs, popular amusement parks and sandy beaches. Colchester caters for everyone!
Colchester offers superb facilities for the health, fitness and wellbeing of its residents. In addition to a plethora of public and private health, leisure, spa and fitness facilities, the town boasts numerous golf clubs, and a wide range of sporting clubs as well as a 10,000 seater football stadium built in 2008, offering conferencing and banqueting facilities. Plans have been approved for the northern gateway development which will provide further opportunities from walking and cycling to extreme sports and there’s a growing retail sector in the town centre and at Tollgate at the edge of town.
The Borough’s educational offer is second to none. An array of good and outstanding nurseries and primary schools feed 10 state secondary schools – 9 of which are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. Two of the best schools in the country – always in the top five nationally for GCSE and A level results are in Colchester – the Colchester Royal Grammar School and the Colchester County High School for Girls. And the town also boasts several popular and very successful independent schools offering places to youngsters from two and a half to 16.
And at 16, the excellent choices continue – a small number of schools have sixth forms, and there’s a very successful Sixth Form College offering a wide range of A level courses, the International Baccalaureate and an impressive enrichment curriculum to some 3,500 students; and of course there’s Colchester Institute, with £20million in capital funding invested in state of the art buildings and learning resources in the last four years and a further £10million to be spent over the next twelve months, a College offering hundreds of professional and technical courses and apprenticeships – to several thousand students, fully aligned to the needs of local employers and providing a pipeline of talent and skills to the businesses that make Colchester their home. And from college, students will go on to work, or into self-employment or off to university – nationally, regionally or within the town itself at University Centre Colchester (part of Colchester Institute) or the University of Essex.
I believe that one of the reasons that Colchester works so very well is its size. It’s large enough to provide these ‘golden opportunities’ through the outstanding facilities, great services, and business and retail opportunities that you’ve heard just a bit about this evening – but it’s small enough to enable collaborative working and genuine networking (the Ambassadors being a prime example of this) and it’s small enough to make your mark – as an individual, as a family or as a business. I’m proud to be a Colchester Ambassador and to have been able to make my mark on this amazing town and borough!