A group of school children from Northumberland and other countries had the added bonus of being able to cuddle a canine during their visit to AkzoNobel’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Ashington.
The year six pupils from Germany, Italy and Poland, as well as Bothal Primary School, enjoyed a full day at the plant as part of a unique project to design a playground for the future.
They were treated to site tours, an interactive colour workshop, a virtual reality experience and a surprise visit from AkzoNobel’s iconic Dulux dog.
The children have been taking turns since the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based initiative started in September 2017 to visit each other’s schools overseas during key phases of the project.
Bothal Primary School was responsible for hosting the children during an important design phase and helped to organise the visit to AkzoNobel.
“The ERASMUS+ scheme is a European funded programme designed to enable schools from other countries to work together collaboratively on a project,” explained Leanne Johnson, assistant head of school at the Ashington Learning Partnership Trust.
“We thought about the different activities that we could plan around the theme of ‘design’ and given that the world’s most advanced paint factory is right on our doorstep, we thought it would be a shame not to include AkzoNobel in the itinerary.
“The day we spent on site with the team from AkzoNobel was a huge success.
“Despite the language barriers, all of the children had a fantastic time. The appearance of the Dulux dog was a lovely added surprise as well.”
Famous for its household brands such as Dulux, Polycell and Hammerite, the company’s Ashington site is capable of producing up to 100million litres of paint per year in up to 33,000 different colours.
Jill Johnston, site support coordinator at AkzoNobel Ashington, said: “The children thoroughly enjoyed the day they spent with us on the site.
“They were really engaged and loved getting hands-on with the painting exercises.”
The visit took place in the same month as the announcement that new contract wins and increased product demand has led to a need for boosted production volumes at the manufacturing facility, which has resulted in 22 new skilled jobs being created.
The company has achieved this by managing to creating a third production shift at the site and it is currently working to increase the time that the plant is actively making paint.