We are delighted to celebrate the success of two young trainees as they complete Churches Conservation Trust’s (CCT) heritage skills training at Seventeen Nineteen in Sunderland, supported by funding from Benefact Trust.
Seventeen Nineteen – the name for the Holy Trinity regeneration project – is seeing the church transformed into a new venue for culture, heritage and learning, and has given young people the opportunity to gain the experience they need to get started in historic building restoration, and in turn, build the resilience of specialist contractors to continue to conserve historic buildings.
Locally recruited young people have worked alongside specialists to develop their skills in joinery, working with lime, stonemasonry and plasterwork, learning to use traditional methods and materials that are needed to conserve buildings. The apprentices have also all worked towards NVQ qualifications.
For Tyler, an apprentice with Historic Property Restoration Ltd in Sunderland, a heritage skills apprenticeship has truly been life changing. Tyler joined HPR Ltd in 2019 with little experience but a real aptitude for building and a keen desire to learn. He very quickly became a key member of the team, impressing the old hands with his work ethic and earning the nickname ‘The Tank’ thanks to his unstoppable approach. Tyler is on a multi-trade apprenticeship but through working on site has discovered a real love and flair for stonemasonry, spending hours with the masons learning to chop out decayed stone and precisely cut and fit replacement pieces.
Tyler said: “This apprentice position has given me so much, I’ve learnt from everyone on site, I’ve been able to learn to drive and buy a car and support my family, and now I’ve got a future. I would never have known about stonemasonry but now I really love it.”
Tyler has been offered a permanent role with HPR Ltd when his apprenticeship ends next month, and hopes to begin his formal stonemasonry training in the autumn.
He returned to his training college in recent weeks to set up a dedicated heritage work area and to give training in working with lime mortars, so that new cohorts of learners can experience using traditional materials in readiness for work placements with heritage contractors in future.
In addition to CCT’s apprenticeship programmes, ten young people have completed heritage skills work placements on site, working alongside more experienced craftspeople to develop skills. School leaver Luke has completed a twelve week placement at Sunderland with HPR Ltd and has now been offered a paid role.
Site supervisor Simon Hills said: “The heritage skills programme is great in so many ways. We’ve got older experienced guys on site who want to pass their skills on to a new generation but also it helps us to identify young people with the right attitude who want to learn these skills so that the company can continue to grow and to work on these special buildings, giving them the care they deserve”.
Andrew Bass, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “We’re delighted that our funding has supported two heritage skills trainees into permanent employment. It has been fantastic to hear about their growth over the course of their training, and it’s clear that they have exciting futures ahead of them.”