Buckfast Abbey takes on first apprentice

Laura White
Laura White
Lewis on the right, with Connor Clay, a Heating and Plumbing Engineer at Buckfast Abbey.

With rising levels of youth unemployment in Devon, Buckfast Abbey has teamed up with a local training provider to launch a new apprenticeship scheme.

Nineteen-year-old Lewis Ware has started a career as a trainee plumber in the Abbey’s busy works department, maintaining the Abbey Church, monastery, guesthouse, hotel and other buildings on the extensive site, which is home to a working community of Benedictine monks. The Abbey is now in the process of recruiting a painter and decorator and plans to take on many more apprentices.

Human Resources Manager Jen Totman says: “Lewis is the first apprentice we have taken on for a long time. However, here at the Abbey we have a proud history of learning on the job. When the Abbey Church was being re-built in the 1930s, Brother Peter went abroad to learn masonry skills and came back to instruct the monks who were working with him.

‘Buckfast Abbey is a place of community, where we are passionate about education and valuing our people. We are looking to invest in apprentices to be the next generation of our team. The combination of work-based experience, study and a wage can be the support that some people need to start a career or change their direction.”

The placement has been organised with Exeter-based PGL Training Limited. Coordinator Leon Hackworthy says: “PGL Training are excited to forge strong working partnerships with renowned employers such as Buckfast Abbey. Lewis lost his previous placement because of the pandemic, but with his true grit and determination, he succeeded in finding himself a fantastic new employer and he has settled into his new role very well. We are very confident in Lewis’ ability and are excited to see him develop further in the coming weeks and months.”

Lewis says that he is delighted to be working at Buckfast Abbey: “I wanted to experience what it is like to work in the real world and learn at the same time. All the staff at the Abbey are very kind, and it is a relaxing environment. I would definitely encourage other people of my age to consider becoming an apprentice.”

For more information: www.buckfast.org.uk/careers

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