Hitchin firm transforms Baldock school gym into new skills centre

PUBLISHED: 15:06 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:42 01 August 2018

A team of trainees at Fortem in Hitchin chose Brandles School for their project. Picture: Danny Devine

A team of trainees at Fortem in Hitchin chose Brandles School for their project. Picture: Danny Devine

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Brandles School in Baldock has welcomed the arrival of a new skills centre that will allow students to learn decorating, carpentry, plastering, plumbing and bricklaying.

The team at Fortem transformed at former gym into a DT room. Picture: Danny DevineThe team at Fortem transformed at former gym into a DT room. Picture: Danny Devine

The new centre comes after Hitchin-based company Fortem selected the school for its trainee challenge, where three teams of management trainees are tasked with delivering a charity project of their choice.

The trainees decided to swap the design technology room with the gym, which allowed for an extension on the DT room to make different skills available at the school to be taught in one area.

Project leader Harry Flanaghan said: “I hope the new extension will serve many students from Baldock and the surrounding areas for many generations to come.

“The centre has been called the Armstrong Skills Centre to honour our amazing friend Marcus Armstrong, who we unfortunately lost earlier this year.

As well as creating a new skills centre, trainees at Fortem also transformed a garden for the students at Brandles. Picture: Danny DevineAs well as creating a new skills centre, trainees at Fortem also transformed a garden for the students at Brandles. Picture: Danny Devine

“He gave his spare time to mentor a boy with similar social and emotional issues at the students of Brandles, so the name is a fitting tribute.

“Thank you to everyone involved for all your effort in creating a centre out mate would be proud of.”

As well as creating the skills centre, Fortem’s team cleared an overgrown garden of stinging nettles, giving the boys at the school more space to use the outdoor facilities.

Brandles School headteacher David Pearce said: “The new skills centre gives our students opportunities, introduces them to trades and for many, gives them a context for learning.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald celebrated the opening of the new skills centre with Fortem team leader Harry Flanagan. Picture: Danny DevineNorth East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald celebrated the opening of the new skills centre with Fortem team leader Harry Flanagan. Picture: Danny Devine

“The Fortem team arrived at Brandles with a vision and they are leaving us with a better place to teach our students.

“I sincerely thank you all for providing us with such a wonderful facility.”

Students at the school also expressed their excitement around the skills centre.

Joshua said: “I’ve been a student of Brandles for three years, and there have been a lot of changes.

“This area has been one of the biggest and most helpful changes. It used to have a gym inside it, but now it will focus more on DT and construction which can help us out with employment if we wanted to become builders.”

The grand opening was attended by students, teachers, Fortem employees and North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald.

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