Young people keen to pursue a farming-based career will soon have the opportunity to study at a special educational centre in Hexham Auction Mart.
The mart’s managing director Robert Addison has teamed up with Newton Rigg College in Penrith to establish a classroom at the Hexham premises to cater for the college’s agricultural apprentices from across Northumberland and Durham.
Mr Addison said: “We are delighted to be working with Newton Rigg College on this. It will be of huge benefit to the farming community, particularly young people as they can study closer to home and the mart is already a busy central hub for agriculture.”
Scores of agricultural apprentices from across the region study at both Newton Rigg and partner college Askham Bryan in York.
This new centre at Hexham will help to cut down on their travel time as well as providing a base for the delivery of the Level 2 Diploma in Livestock Production, studying livestock production, health and safety, basic treatments and welfare.
An arable unit may be added if there is a demand to gain industry-recognised qualifications such as chain saw skills.
It is envisaged the apprentices will divide their time between work on farms or for other employers with classroom learning at Hexham and additional sessions at Newton Rigg.
Expressions of interest in the course at the new Hexham base have already been received from around a dozen young people from Rothbury, Morpeth, Weardale and Newton Rigg. All lecturers at Newton Rigg have a farming background. Delivering the Hexham learning will be Mike Wilson and Jamie Brownrigg.
Mr Brownrigg has a beef farm and a sheep farm, both near Penrith, and he is also chairman of the Solway and Tyne Texel Sheep Breeders Club.
As the agricultural skills trainer and assessor, he visits apprentices at work, checking on their progress and helping to deliver practical work-based training.
He said: “The apprenticeships have exploded in the last four or five years and led to us deciding to open up at Hexham. We have more than 100 agricultural apprentices at the moment.
“We know how big Cumbria is for livestock and Northumberland is the same and we wondered where all those guys were going for training.
“I’ve been travelling to the Hexham and Haydon Bridge areas for the last couple of years, visiting about 10 farms where we have apprentices at the moment.
“They’re very welcoming farms and the apprentices are lovely kids. They’re showing great commitment and it’s been a pleasure dealing with them.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the new apprenticeship at Hexham Mart can attend open evenings from 5.30pm to 7pm on Thursday, June 13, and Thursday, July 4. Just turn up or email firstname.lastname@example.org.