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Unusual job for Hellesdon apprentice - on the historic farm

PUBLISHED: 15:32 19 October 2011

Heritage farming apprentice Oscar Smith at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Heritage farming apprentice Oscar Smith at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2011

A Hellesdon teenager will be able to follow his farming ambition after starting an 18-month apprenticeship at a popular working museum.

Oscar Smith, 17, who completed AS levels in biology, religious studies and physics at Hellesdon High School this summer, decided sixth form was not for him and applied for the Skills for the Future course at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham.

“I wasn’t enjoying sixth form any more,” Mr Smith said.

He added: “I’d given up hope in finding an agricultural apprenticeship, I even thought about looking in Yorkshire.”

Speaking about when he got on to the apprenticeship last month, the teenager said he was “ecstatic” and “couldn’t believe it”.

He works at the popular attraction four days a week and studies at Easton College, just outside Norwich, one day a week.

His jobs include feeding and mucking out the horses and ploughing the fields at the Gressenhall museum.

Mr Smith said: “It is hard work but I enjoy the physical side. I would like to stay in the area of traditional farming.”

The Skills for the Future programme started in April this year at the Gressenhall attraction, as well as the Museum of East Anglian Life, in Stowmarket, Suffolk. after a £700,000 financial boost.

Both sites will run the scheme, which teaches traditional skills, until December 2014, and just under £620,000 was awarded from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The rest of the money was provided by the county council’s Norfolk Museums and Archaeology service and the Renaissance fund, which receives money from central government for museums in England.

Traditional skills taught through the 22 posts at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse include gardening, farming, environmental conservation, historic engine running and maintenance, historic building maintenance and caring for horses.

People who are lucky enough to get on to the scheme can either take part in 18-month apprenticeships or internships, which can be completed in six months or 12 months.

Anyone of any age can apply to become involved in the programme at Gressenhall and Stowmarket.

Robin Hanley, western area manager for the Norfolk Museums and Archaelogy service, said the traditional skills learned at Gressenhall are very contemporary and provide people with a powerful CV.

“A lot of these skills are transferable,” he added.

For more information contact Sally Ackroyd by ringing 07771 840232 or emailing Sally.ackroyd@norfolk.gov.uk

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