A key part of the wider project is education and community involvement and the River School will act as a hub and dedicated learning centre for everyone.

Since January, the River School has welcomed over 500 school children and various groups from across Northern Ireland and Co. Donegal, educating them about the importance of protecting our rivers.

Additional support for the River School refurbishment was provided by Cookstown District Council, which has supported the work of the Trust for many years.

The Ballinderry River is home to one of the few remaining populations of the globally endangered freshwater pearl mussel which can live for up to 150 years. Its survival depends on trout which acts as a host to carry its larvae. The wider Ballinderry River project aims to save the river’s remaining wild mussels, of which there are thought to be less than a 1000, from extinction.

Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan said: “This is a most impressive and innovative facility. It gives children an imaginative and exciting educational experience. It provides an unforgettable way to learn about and help maintain their local river.”

Martin McDonald, Committee member of Heritage Lottery Fund NI offered his congratulations to the local project.

Leo Cassidy, Chairperson of Ballinderry Rivers Trust said: “We are proud to be able to not just educate the public on the river environment but also provide a research base for students and researchers from Queens University, Univers