APPRENTICES from the UK’s largest sawmilling company have given their time and skills for free to create the finishing touch to an Inverness school’s much-loved sensory garden.
Seven apprentices from BSW Timber Group dug deep to complete the DIY-SOS style challenge as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.
They rose to the challenge of building a decked pergola in part of the sensory garden at Drummond School after Inverness College UHI identified a need.
The school for young people with additional support needs fundraised for more than five years to raise the £36,000 needed to create the sensory garden, which was eventually built last year.
However, the school was always keen to add a pergola, from which sensory items could hang. So, when the university heard of the school’s need, it contacted apprenticeship business partner BSW to see if the company could help.
The sensory garden is extremely popular with pupils, whose needs are wide ranging. The Scottish School of Forestry also donated wood chippings for the project.
Tony Lockey, group learning and development manager for BSW Timber Group, said: "Scottish Apprenticeship Week is all about celebrating the value apprentices bring to a business, but also the wonderful opportunities work-based learning can offer.
"When Inverness College UHI approached us about this project, we knew it was something our apprentices would jump at.
"We’re delighted to be able to help such a worthwhile cause and very proud of our apprentices and the skill and expertise they have shown in creating this pergola, decking and seating area."
Christine Pearsall, a teacher who has led on the sensory garden project for Drummond, said: "We had an area which contained a small bench but we always wanted a pergola, so when BSW offered to help, we were absolutely delighted.
"We are so grateful to them and we know it will become an extremely popular area, where we can hang lots of sensory items. It’s just another thing which will really enrich our garden and the experience of our pupils."
Apprenticeships allow people to work, earn and learn at the same time as studying for an industry recognised qualification.
The college currently works with more than 650 modern apprentices, delivering qualifications in an increasing range of disciplines.
Kate Ellistone, the college’s business solutions contracts co-ordinator, said: "The university delivers training to 11 BSW modern apprentices at its sites in Boat of Garten and Fort William, and the company is soon to advertise four new apprenticeship places in Fort William.
"We work with apprentices over four years and develop close relationships with them and their employers. So when the opportunity arose to give something back, it seemed the perfect opportunity to celebrate what apprenticeships are all about and showcase the talent and skills of these amazing students."