The man widely accredited with helping to bring Game of Thrones to Northern Ireland has launched an International Youth Leadership programme at George Best Belfast City Airport.

Jay Roewe, Senior Vice President of HBO, West Coast Productions launched the IGNITE programme, a joint initiative between the airport and Cinemagic, which will provide potentially life-changing opportunities for 100 young people over the next five years.

Twenty pupils from various secondary schools and Further Educational Colleges from across Belfast have been chosen as the first group to begin the year-long programme which will culminate with a once in a life-time trip to Los Angeles.

Michelle Hatfield, Director of Corporate Services for George Best Belfast City Airport commented:

“George Best Belfast City Airport is passionate about supporting initiatives that make a real difference to our local community.

“Through our Corporate Responsibility programme, we look at promoting employability incentives and work with many local organisations to promote skills development of young people.”

Over the course of the year, participants will collaborate with youth organisations, foundations, charities, representatives from other businesses in the private sector and also recognised names in the field of sport, film and politics.

Michelle concluded:

“As a leader in our sector, it is our responsibility to engage with young people and encourage them to consider careers that suit their skill set and aim to develop, encourage and inspire our young people as the workforce of tomorrow.

“Whilst the trip will conclude at a VIP Gala event in Santa Monica, it is hoped that the lessons learned and the connections made by the young people involved will last a lifetime.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor John Finucane offered his encouragement to the young people participating in IGNITE, saying:

“We’ve made a commitment in The Belfast Agenda to making sure that everyone in Belfast fulfils their potential, so this is a very welcome initiative indeed.

IGNITE holds the potential to build the confidence, leadership and social skills of every young person involved. I wish them all the very best of luck and know that they’ll act as fantastic ambassadors for our great city whilst in LA.”

The IGNITE programme also offers participants the opportunity to gain an NLP Diploma in Personal and Career Development which will provide them with the necessary skills to gain insight into their own personal skill set and develop their own strengths and interests.

Joan Burney-Keatings MBE, CEO of Cinemagic said:

“Our ethos is in perfect harmony with the objectives set out by the IGNITE programme. Cinemagic, for the past 30 years has worked with young people to ignite a passion in the creative industries through high quality film and television opportunities, to develop their skills, explore opportunities, and reaffirm their belief in what they want to do and their own ability to achieve it.

“We are privileged to be hosting Jay especially in Cinemagic’s 30th Anniversary Year. The shooting of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland has been such a positive story for both HBO and the local community.

“The film industry is a catalyst for a pipeline of young leaders and economic expansion in Northern Ireland and its impact goes way beyond the creative industries.”

To find out more information about the IGNITE programme or to see how you could apply to become a participant in 2020, please visit: