Long Stratton man’s vintage cars help drive apprentices to success

Two budding young mechanics are being trained in their profession thanks to financial help from vintage cars left behind by a Long Stratton collector.

Stephen Rogers has secured an apprenticeship with Norwich-based Ford and Slater DAF Truck Sales dealership to train at DAF College, while Luke Robson has received support to attend Easton College and do specialist farm machinery courses at Warwick.

The pair are being funded with money raised from the auction of vintage cars owned by retired London wheelwright James Blanch, who died three years ago.

The collection was discovered by auctioneer Guy Snelling after being hidden in undergrowth at Mr Blanch's cottage for more than 50 years.

The collection, which included 1930s Riley Monacos, a Riley Lynx, a Willys Overland, a Lea Francis, two Swifts and Singers, was subsequently removed from the site and sold at auction.

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As Mr Blanch had no close living relatives, living a quiet life at his cottage before he died, �500,000 from the estate was transferred to the Norfolk Community Foundation to create the JP Blanch Grassroots Fund.

Additional funding was provided by the Office of the Third Sector.

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Mr Rogers's service manager, John Balls, said the trainee mechanic would not have been eligible for the traditional apprenticeship route because of his age.

John Riddett, one of the trustees of Mr Blanch's estate, said: 'During these difficult economic times it is good to be able to report on a scheme that will help young people in Norfolk to take their first step on the ladder of employment.'

He explained that the scheme was nothing to do with the government, but funded by an individual who believed in self-help and making a difference.

'His legacy will transform the lives of those who are willing to take advantage of the opportunities that the trustees and the Norfolk Community Foundation have created,' Mr Riddett added.

To find out more about the fund or the work of the foundation log on to www.norfolkfoundation.com or telephone 01603 623958.


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