Monday 30th January 2012

Apprentices at A&P Tyne did the shipyard proud when management handed them a Lord Sugar-style task – to produce a calendar for the local community.

The lads rose to the challenge and swapped their routine skills of fitting, electricals and fabrication for picture editing, selling adverts and publishing.

They assembled a top-class calendar which they distributed to thousands of homes and businesses around the Hebburn yard AND raised £2000 for the children’s hospice Grace House, currently being built in Southwick, Sunderland.

The apprentices – Martin Laffey, 24, Lewis Burns, 18, Andy Todd and Danny Totton, both 21 – gave the charity a great start to the year by handing Grace House representative Richard Harris a cheque for the proceeds.

The calendar shows striking images of past projects at the yard, such as the conversion of former warship HMS Bristol into a Royal Navy training vessel and building part of the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The group of apprentices also used their selling skills to find 12 companies from the yard’s sub-contractors and suppliers to sponsor each month of the year.

Martin, from Hebburn, who won the North East award last year for Outstanding Achievement for a First Year Apprentice, said: “It was like being on the TV show The Apprentice – it was a bit daunting to ring companies to ask for sponsorship and it tested your communication skills.

“We had to sort through hundreds of pictures and it was really hard to whittle them down to 12 because they were all good. The calendars were printed and delivered just before Christmas then we split into two teams and distributed them all ourselves to local homes and businesses.

“It’s good to be able to give something back to the community and help the Grace House Appeal too.”

Danny, from South Shields, who’s in the final year of his welding and fabrication apprenticeship, added: “The project took five weeks from start to finish.

“It was very different to our normal work, I’m used to working on the ships and instead we were in an office on the phone.

“I really enjoyed it and I’m pleased with the result. We’ve had good feedback on the calendar and people who have received it say it looks great, they can’t believe that we’ve done it.

“It was a real joint effort. It took five days to deliver all 2000 calendars, we were putting them through letterboxes from 9am to 3pm and we really hope people like it.”

In the calendar, Managing Director Stewart Boak praises the yard’s “generous workforce” for having raised an additional £2868 in the last seven months of 2011 through payroll donation, where everyone gives part of their monthly wage packet to Grace House, described as “a home from home for children with life-threatening conditions.”

He added: “It’s important we communicate with our neighbours and involve them in what A&P are doing. We thought it would be a good idea to involve our apprentices and they did an excellent job in pulling the whole thing together and distributing 2000 calendars to local homes and businesses just before Christmas.

“It’s been very well received so we plan to do it again and our challenge is to improve on it in future years.”

Kathy Secker, founder of the Grace House Appeal, offered “a huge thank you” to A&P Tyne and said the building of Grace House was on target for completion in the summer.

She added: “We need to fund a very extensive and specialist equipment list and this wonderful donation from the apprentices at A&P Tyne will go towards the cost of installing specialist ceiling hoists.”

A&P Group Media Relations

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