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 Award for Young Apprentice

Apprentice bricklayer Oliver Clarke is celebrating after scooping a Young Apprentice award for his work with Story Homes’ contractor Richard Cleaver.

Oliver, 19, of Blackhill, County Durham, began his working life on Story Homes’ The Woodlands site in Shotley Bridge, County Durham, in February last year under the guidance of Richard and Story Homes’ site manager Gary Turney.

He was given the award by New College Durham in recognition of his dedication and hard-work both at work and college.

Oliver, who lives with mum Judith Clarke, an accounts manager, 52, and his brother Matthew, 23, a laboratory technician, said: “I was recruited through a work experience placement.

“Richard gave me a two week trial, he was impressed and took me on from then.

“I wanted to do an apprenticeship as I wanted to start earning money while learning a trade, and with this I knew there was going to be a job at the end of it.

“Since working for Story Homes and Richard I’ve got a lot more confident in myself and been able to communicate much better on the site.

“I’m learning much more than just brick work, I’m seeing what joiners are doing and other skills like the groundworks.

“Eventually I’d like to complete a HND and go on to be a contracts manager or a civil engineer.”

Richard, 32, who lives in Stanley, Country Durham, and owns Richard Cleaver Building, said: “I found Oliver through a work experience programme.

“He came on a two weeks’ trial and that’s when I realised how valuable an apprenticeship would be, so I worked with New College, Durham.

“There is a fantastic atmosphere on site at Shotley Bridge – it’s very much a team effort and everyone works together to get the job done.

“It’s been the ideal place for Oliver to learn and he’s taken every opportunity he has been offered by the team.

“My future plan is to recruit one apprentice a year – I see it as a way to give something back to the community and also in some small way to help tackle unemployment issues in the area.”

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