Ship boat

Derry speaker and The Northman’s ‘viking ship skipper’ nominated for top prize

Co Derry lecturer who also made a name for himself as Ireland’s fittest man and cast member of hit ‘The Northman’ hopes to add another accolade to his name – UK Further Education Reader of the Year.

Ivor Neill, who teaches at North West Regional College’s Limavady campus, finished first in the 2022 Crossfit Open Men’s 65 and over category with a world ranking of 156.

Ivor also starred as the ‘skipper of the Viking ship’ in the recently released Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Northman’ alongside Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård.

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However, the Limavady campus is where Ivor Neill feels most at home – a place he has called his workplace for almost 40 years.

Ivor was the driving force behind the introduction of two new courses at the Limavady campus – the Level 3 Diploma in Outdoor Activities and the Level 3 Diploma in Uniformed Services.

Ivor said: “The best part of my job is working with the students, watching them grow and achieve more than they thought possible.

“Achieving a Level 3 qualification in Sport, Fitness and Uniformed Protective Services will open up career opportunities in these industries for all of our students.”

Ivor is a proven role model for students due to his personal accomplishments. These include regular cross-Channel sailing, motorcycling across Europe, and he is an active member of the local community.

Ivor said: “I have always been involved in watersports and fitness training and started X Fit training in 2017. Age is no barrier to staying fit. Physical training is applicable to everyone, young or old.

“Keeping fit is like putting money in the bank – we all need to invest in our level of fitness. There’s a way to stay fit that works for everyone.”



NWRC speaker Ivor Neill has been shortlisted for Further Education UK Speaker of the Year.

Having qualifications and being able to skipper traditional boats has opened many doors in the NI film industry.

Ivor has been on various trips to Iona in the Curragh Colmcille alongside David Dimbleby for the BBC, and now his most recent role in the Northman, which he says has been a fantastic experience.

Ivor said: “My role in the film was to direct the Viking ship to various locations for various scenes.

“I also spent a week training other cast members to row a Viking longship. It was a real challenge trying to get all the big players, who were cast as Berserkers in the movie, row in harmony.”



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Sinead O’Brien, Curriculum Manager for Sport at NWRC, who nominated Ivor for the award, said: “Ivor takes his students on an adventure, a learning adventure that inspires his students to take on challenges. and to persevere in their quest for academic success.

“Our learners are attracted to Ivor because of his genuine interest in their success and development. Her caring and caring nature is enchanting and aligned with her professional approach to her work.

“Ivor often provides additional learning opportunities for his students; for example, obtaining additional qualifications such as Royal Yachting Association awards.

“These additional qualifications allow students to gain professional industry qualifications while completing their BTEC course, enhancing their applications for college or employment.

“His lessons are rooted in lived experiences. Ivor has a wealth of life and industry experience that allows him to inject reality into his lessons.

“He changes the lives of young people every day and is well deserving of this award.”

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