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National Lottery funding benefiting young apprentices

16th July 2019

Photo taken by Torfaen CBC

Photo above taken by Torfaen CBC

Ryan Smart, 19, from Cwmbran is a carpentry apprentice with Y Prentis who has been benefiting from the National Lottery funded Blaenavon Townscape Heritage Programme (THP).

The Townscape Heritage Partnership (THP) is being delivered through funding contributions from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Torfaen CBC, Blaenavon Town Council, Cadw and private sector applicants.

Ryan has been with Y Prentis since May 2018 and is about to complete his NVQ Level 2 in Site Carpentry at Coleg Gwent. He spent five months of his apprenticeship working on the restoration of Bethlehem Chapel. Due to Bethlehem Chapel being a listed building, work can only be done to it using traditional restoration techniques and materials. This includes using reusing materials from the original chapel to restore features such as the pews.

Gareth Davies, Chair of the THP board, said, “Using Y Prentis to support the THP initiatives in the town brings an innovative and high impact outcome. Young people who may be considering the construction sector can gain high value skills in heritage construction and conservation. These skills will be increasingly needed in South Wales and will contribute to the vital task of preserving our shared heritage for years to come.”

Councillor Alan Jones, Blaenavon World Heritage Champion, said, “Part of the THP is providing conservation construction apprenticeship placements through our partnership with Y Prentis. This is such an exciting and unique opportunity for young people to learn and gain value experience working on a Grade 2 listed building in a World Heritage Site. Meeting Y Prentis and Ryan Smart, our first apprentice under this scheme, has been very inspiring. What a great opportunity to learn and develop skills.”

Dafydd Langley-Noel, Y Prentis Assistant Programme Manager, said, “Y Prentis are delighted to be working with Torfaen County Borough Council to provide apprenticeship opportunities on the Bethlehem Chapel. It’s been a great opportunity for two of our carpentry apprentices to work with AP Waters and not only learn about the different methods of construction, but gain a greater understanding about the importance of heritage work. The chapel forms part of an exciting regeneration project in Blaenavon which will provide many training opportunities for local people, and we’re looking forward to continuing our work with the council to deliver those apprenticeship placements.”

Ryan Smart said, “It was great working with A P Waters on the Bethlehem Chapel. It was a really friendly environment to work in and they taught me how to use more traditional and specialist building techniques which I had never used before. I learnt a lot about the Blaenavon community from my time working on this project, and it was clear to see that it meant a lot to the local people by the way they came together to celebrate the projects achievements.”

Richard Bellamy, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Wales, said, “This important project in Blaenavon perfectly demonstrates the wide-ranging impact and lasting impact  National Lottery funding can have for people and places across Wales. We are perceived by many as a funder of castles and museums, and while we continue to support those we believe that heritage is a living thing and should be a part of our everyday lives.”

Click here to find out more about Ryan's journey as an apprentice.