Jobs joy at both ends of career spectrum for North Walsham’s Melbourne House B&B staff

A small business in rural north Norfolk is cocking a snook at economic doom-mongers by increasing its trade and signing up a batch of apprentices.

Melbourne House, on North Walsham's Bacton Road, has been trading for fewer than two years but owners Tracey Hipperson and Kevin Fleming say the bed and breakfast, tea rooms and wedding bookings are flooding in.

Now the couple has taken on four apprentices, through their links with the town's Paston Sixth Form College.

Keen cook Steph Dove, 18, of St Mary's Road, Stalham, is learning all aspects of catering.

She took an employability course at Paston aimed at increasing her chances of landing a job and had been turned down after seven interviews when she applied to Melbourne House and was accepted.

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'I was ecstatic. My mum burst into tears. My age and the fact I had no experience always seemed to count against me at interviews,' said Steph.

Jac Tarrant, 17, left Aylsham High School with three 'not very good GCSEs' and was also enrolled on Paston's employability course.

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He has been taken on at Melbourne House as an apprentice groundsman.

'I didn't do so well at school but this is a life-changing opportunity. I always wanted to work outside and now I have a reason to get up in the mornings because I enjoy what I do,' said Jac, who lives at the former RAF Coltishall camp, now known as Badersfield.

The pair are joined by Jack Sherry, 17, from Park Avenue North Walsham, who is apprenticed as an events manager, and 20-year-old Declan Katra, from Grove Road, North Walsham, training as a caretaker.

Peter Mayne, principal of Paston College, said: 'Paston has run an apprenticeship programme for many years and is massively successful in doing so with completion and 'timely success rates' well above local and national levels.'

Ms Hipperson, 48, who gave up a high-powered job as director of ICT with Cambridgeshire police to realise her ambition of running a hotel, said she had always worked with young people and was inspired by their commitment and enthusiasm.

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