North Walsham mechanic gets dream job with the help of the EDP

James Todd, 27, at Holt Road Garage Services, Horsford, where he has got an apprenticeship due to the EDP; Robert Ashton, right, founder of Swarm Apprenticeships; and the garage partners, Simon Ikins, left, and Nigel  Coleman. Picture: Denise Bradley James Todd, 27, at Holt Road Garage Services, Horsford, where he has got an apprenticeship due to the EDP; Robert Ashton, right, founder of Swarm Apprenticeships; and the garage partners, Simon Ikins, left, and Nigel Coleman. Picture: Denise Bradley

Friday, October 11, 2013
11:12 AM

An apprentice mechanic’s life is back on track after receiving a helping hand from the Eastern Daily Press.

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Twenty-seven-year-old James Todd, of Morris Road, North Walsham, had all but given up hope of achieving his dream of working with cars – but thanks to a little help from his family an opportunity presented itself.

It comes following the publication of a letter in the EDP, entitled “bureaucracy letting young people down”, penned by Mr Todd’s girlfriend’s mum, Mandi Jackson.

Mrs Jackson told the story of how Mr Todd was desperate to do an apprenticeship but could not get the funding because he was declared “too old” to be eligible.

In another letter to the paper she said: “Following that letter being printed, I was contacted that very morning by Robert Ashton – who sorts apprenticeships out for young people in areas of Norfolk – and he felt he would be able to help.

“Within a couple of weeks, James had the funding secured for his apprenticeship at a local garage as well as the college course he had to pay for.

“We cannot thank Robert enough. He has restored our faith in the power of the human spirit and has allowed a young man to fulfil his dream,” said Mrs Jackson.

Mr Todd is working at Holt Road Garage, Horsford, under the watchful eye of owner Simon Ikins, and attends City College Norwich one day a week to study for a level two apprenticeship in vehicle maintenance and repairs.

He said: “A lot of people worry about their age when applying for apprenticeships, with things such as wages and training. But if there are any other people in the same

situation as me I would tell them to go for it and not to be put off.

“The EDP has definitely helped out by publishing Mandi’s letter and it’s put the word out to other people in similar situations.”

Mr Ashton, founder of Swarm Apprenticeships and vice-patron of Norfolk Community Foundation, added: “James, through no fault of his own, was too old to qualify for the national age grant and county council apprenticeship grant.

“Clearly the age limit – 24 – is there to focus attention on those with the greatest need. It’s up to the rest of us to help those who clearly deserve support, but don’t qualify for funding.”

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