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24 Apr 2018

HLF invests in Skills for the Future campaign with Welsh railway training scheme
BY Tom Anstey

Karen Spring (centre) has been named project manager for the training scheme

Karen Spring (centre) has been named project manager for the training scheme
photo: Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways

Wales' biggest tourist railway has secured national lottery funding to support an ambitious training scheme encouraging careers in the heritage sector.

Worth £454,500 (US$633,000, €519,000), the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant – awarded to the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways – will be used to support the training programme, which aims to introduce heritage skills to a more diverse audience.

As part of the HLF's Skills for the Future campaign, the programme will see 20 trainees recruited over a two-year period, with candidates learning heritage skills during their time working at the tourist attraction.

Karen Spring, a former head teacher, has been named project manager, with her new role overseeing the entire training scheme and her first task to prepare for the first round of trainees, who will join the programme in September later this year.

Areas covered by the scheme will include horticulture, heritage joinery, heritage mechanical engineering, dry stone walling, permanent way engineering and heritage interpretation. The scheme will be carried out in collaboration with local partners and colleges, according to the railway.

"For our national heritage to have a bright future we need to ensure that there are people with the skills necessary to conserve, work with and interpret our heritage assets," said Paul Lewin, director and general manager of Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.

"It is of vital importance that people from all backgrounds are attracted to be involved in our heritage at all levels. Also as traditional heritage skills diverge from the requirements of mainstream industry, it is ever more important that we concentrate on developing those skills. This program, made possible by HLF, allows us to focus on these challenges in a way that we simply could not otherwise hope to do."



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