Ground force apprentices

St Cuthbert's Hospice head gardener Tony Plowman, centre, with apprentices from East Durham College.

St Cuthbert's Hospice head gardener Tony Plowman, centre, with apprentices from East Durham College.

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GREEN fingered gardeners were happy to get their hands dirty to help a hospice.

A group of horticulture apprentices from East Durham College paid a visit to St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

The six young people spent the day volunteering by working in the gardens and grounds.

St Cuthbert’s provides a range of care and support services to individuals, as well as to their relations and carers, in and around Durham, helping people to cope with life limiting illnesses.

Tony Plowman, who volunteers as head gardener at the hospice and is also treasurer of The Houghall Horticultural Society, said: “It was wonderful to have the student volunteers helping with the development of the extensive grounds we have.

“They provided a great service helping maintain and improve the gardens, including our kitchen garden, which has been created for the benefit of our day patients for them to relax in as well as helping to grow herbs, vegetables and salad for use in the hospice’s catering.”

One of the apprentices to take part was Christopher Raine, 17 from Sherburn Village, who is taking his apprenticeship whilst working at Brambledown in Brandon – leading civil, environmental and development contractors specialising in all aspects of landscaping and construction.

Chris said: “The event let me put into practise what l have learnt during my apprenticeship and also to help the local community which is great.

“The apprenticeship route has really worked for me. I get to work outdoors, learn about horticulture and gain a qualification. My goal is to hopefully gain a full time position at Brambledown and work towards a supervisory role.”

Alison Stephenson, an apprenticeship placement officer at the college, said a lot of different apprentices from the college took part in a series of activities as part of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week.

She said: “I’m delighted that our apprentices got involved. It highlights their skills and commitment to the programme, showing what a valuable asset they are to their employers or companies.”