CHESTER’S John Roberts is the first trainee in heritage skills to start training through a Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Skills for the Future project in Cheshire West and Chester.

The project offers the chance to learn a new skill for the future over the next 12 months, while earning a salary, and will create four traineeships.

These are the result of collaboration between Chester Renaissance and Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Skills Development team successfully bidding for Heritage Lottery Funding.

Before starting the new training, John, 23, was unemployed. He will attend West Cheshire College in Handbridge one day a week, learning stone masonry from a specialist tutor in addition to working alongside stone masons in Cheshire on various work placements during the year.

After a short bricklaying course at the Skills Junction in Winsford to refresh his skills, John will start training with a specialist contractor working on the Cunard building in Liverpool, part of the World Heritage Three Graces at the water front.

Cllr Mike Jones, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “I would like to congratulate John as the first of four new heritage trainees this year.

“There are more than 5,000 listed buildings in Cheshire and many more pre-20th century, all of which will need vital maintenance repairs and investment in the future.

“There is a lack of skilled people to undertake this work and a danger that the skills will be lost without this type of heritage training being offered.

“Cheshire West and Chester Council, Chester Renaissance and West Cheshire College are dedicated to working together to ensure that these much-needed skills are not lost to future generations.”

The three remaining trainees will be recruited later in the year; one more in stone masonry and two in traditional wood joinery.

Anyone interested in applying for one of the trainee positions can contact Paul Valentine, young adult skills co-ordinator on 01606 288909.