Students spruce up area around Souter lighthouse

Sunderland College students helping spruce up Whitburn's Souter Lighthouse.
Sunderland College students helping spruce up Whitburn's Souter Lighthouse.
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Scores of students helped to spruce up the surroundings of a South Tyneside landmark.

Working in partnership with the National Trust, about 60 students from Sunderland College took part in a community project to improve the land around Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn.

It has been refreshing to work with such an enthusiastic group of young people. The work they’ve undertaken will have a positive and lasting impact upon the coastal environment.

Dougie Holden, assistant ranger

The three-week scheme involved students rolling up their sleeves to take part in a variety of tasks including beach clean-ups, forestry management, wildlife habitat creation, memorial bench renovation and footpath clearing.

They also got the chance to visit the lighthouse and find out more about the historic red-and-white-hooped beacon.

Opened in 1871, it was the first lighthouse in the world built to be powered by electricity.

All of the students’ work was carried out on National Trust-owned land at Whitburn Coastal Park and around Marsden Beach.

Trust assistant ranger Dougie Holden said: “It has been refreshing to work with such an enthusiastic group of young people.

“The work they’ve undertaken will have a positive and lasting impact upon the coastal environment.”

The students involved in the project are part of Sunderland College’s Connect programme launched to give young people aged 14 to 25 the chance to try out different careers.

Students on the programme gain a nationally recognised qualification and take part in vocational course taster sessions, work experience placements, and careers advice and guidance workshops.

They also receive assistance with personal and social development and help to gain or improve English and maths qualifications.

Connect student Sophie Binyon, 19, said: “We all really enjoyed our time at the lighthouse and carrying out the tasks. We were very pleased with how the projects turned out. It was nice to get such good feedback.”

Mick Reavey, a lecturer for the Connect programme, added: “This was an interesting and varied project for our Connect students, and their enthusiasm shone through.

“Taking part in this project has not only given students the chance to complete voluntary work to benefit the local community, but it has also helped them to develop an awareness of their environment and improve their team-working skills.”