Financial boost for apprenticeships at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham

Traditional farming skills can now be passed on to the younger generation thanks to a �700,000 financial boost.

The money for the Heritage Lottery Fund's Skills for the Future programme has been shared equally between Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham, and the Museum of East Anglian Life, in Stowmarket, Suffolk.

Both sites will run the scheme 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.

Recruitment for the project at the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse started in April and 22 posts have been created for anyone who wants to learn traditional skills carried out at the site.

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These 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.

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

Oscar Smith, 17, from Hellesdon, in Norwich, started his 18-month farming apprenticeship at Gressenhall last month, despite not having a farming background.

He applied to take part in the programme after completing AS levels in biology, religious studies and physics at Hellesdon High School.

'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 Skills for the Future scheme, 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.'

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.

James Carswell, cabinet member for cultural services at the county council, said: 'I'm thrilled that we have won this funding which will see people's job opportunities boosted by them benefiting from the skills, expertise and wealth of knowledge we have locally. This is an excellent example of how the county's museums service is working to ensure traditional skills and knowledge are kept alive for future generations.'

For more information contact Sally Ackroyd by ringing 07771 840232 or emailing

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