Youngsters wanted to fill old jobs

Wanted: A team of young romantics looking for a life under Norfolk's wide-open skies, happy to get their hands dirty with only wildlife for company.

Wanted: A team of young romantics looking for a life under Norfolk's wide-open skies, happy to get their hands dirty with only wildlife for company.

It may sound the perfect job for this time of year, but successful candidates will be expected to work on the Broads all seasons.

And work will be hard - with employees training in the art of brushcutter and chainsaw work, construction skills, fen and habitat management, bird identification and nesting and boat handling.

The Broads Authority is looking for the first generation of reed and sedge- cutter trainees in a last-gasp bid to save the traditional Norfolk industry.

Also wanted are future millwrights, who will learn maintenance of mill machinery, brickwork, timber maintenance, tarring, lead-flashing, rigging, lifting, hoisting and boat- handling skills.

Lesley Harrison, Broads Authority landscape artist, said the bursary scheme, which promises between 18 months and three years of training and at least minimum wage pay, would "kickstart Broadland heritage industries which are nearing extinction".

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She said: "This is a much-needed boost which will be vitally important in preserving the historic character of the area.

"There are 74 drainage mills in the Broads requiring restoration and maintenance but only one local millwright.

"The reed and sedge-cutting industry is not attracting enough entrants to manage the marsh and fen vegetation which provides habitats for many rare species."

Money was awarded for the bursaries from the Heritage Lottery Fund in January but it is only now that details have been decided and the Broads Authority is asking those interested to apply.

Training for the 15 positions available will be individually-tailored and provided on-the-job, with novices and existing craftsmen allowed to apply.

Richard Starling, chairman of the Broads Reed and Sedge Cutters Association, which was formed in 2003 to rejuvenate the industry, said: "This is wonderful news for our long-term future.

"It will give a unique opportunity for those who are awarded bursaries to learn and work with established reed and sedge cutters throughout the Broads.

"We hope the scheme will provide strong foundations which will underpin the industry's continuing regeneration."

Those interested in applying should write to the Reed, sedge, fens and mills bursary scheme, Broads Authority, 18 Colegate, Norwich NR3 1BQ or phone 01692 678025.

The Broads Authority is also holding an open day for those interested in becoming a volunteer ranger. It takes place at Whitlingham Country Park visitor centre, July 22, 9.30am to 1pm.