In the workshop of Blyth Tall Ship, the new summer intake of trainees is getting to grips with traditional boat-building skills.
With the calm air of quiet concentration, it’s hard to believe the course is made up of people who once struggled at school or lost their way into the world of work.
Here, apprentices Joseph Boothby and Melissa Moodie found a place that nurtured their talents and changed their lives, thanks to a marine engineering scheme made possible by National Lottery players.
The Heritage Lottery Fund-supported scheme is specifically targeted at those not in employment, education or training – or, as CEO Clive Gray calls them, ‘diamonds in the rough’.
“They want things to be different, but don’t know where to start,” he said. “That’s what this project does – it presents them with the opportunity to have a hope and take a crack at it.”
It was a referral from the JobCentre that took Joseph, 27, from unemployment to full-time work and helped him to discover practical talents that were uncultivated at school.
He said: “I had dyslexia and I struggled at school. It’s really good to see that there are still places where people can go and thrive in different ways.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Melissa joined the project after the birth of her daughter.
“After time out, it was an opportunity for a fresh start,” she said. “The whole project has made me feel more confident and allowed me to learn new things.”