A group from all walks of life hope a £400,000 EU cultural exchange will help them forge a career in the arts.

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The partnership between West Norfolk council and the French city of Amiens is designed to boost tourism between the two regions.

The seven taking part will spend the next six months working on artwork and landscaping schemes, along with a show garden at Sandringham Flower Show.

They will also travel to France to view art installations and gardens built by their French counterparts –along with learning their language.

The scheme is being co-ordinated by King’s Lynn Arts Centre, where a neglected garden will be used as a test bed for everything from horticulture to learning wood carving.

“Some of this is about enhancing their own lives; it will also be about learning skills they might be able to use to get a job,” said Liz Falconbridge, the centre’s director.

She added there were still five vacant places on the scheme as those already enrolled met for the first time yesterday.

“I hope to learn some new skills, meet some people and do a bit of travelling,” said Gill Taylor, 54, from Lynn.

Fellow volunteer Trevor Kisby, 39, also from Lynn, said: “The more I find out about it, the more exciting I find it.”

Michael Avery, 55, said: “This is something creative, where you can use your imagination – that suits me and if you can find a job at the end of it, that’s fantastic.”

Also taking part are mother and daughter Sharon and Savannah Andrews, Kieran Beeston and Rachel Graham.

The partnership will culminate in July, with a performance by the acclaimed Amiens Circus in Lynn and the premier of a specially created piece of music by a French composer.

Anyone interested in volunteering should call Ms Falconbridge on 01553 765565.

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