AN award winning apprentice bricklayer has returned home after a successful foreign exchange training programme in France.
John Rudge was one of four student apprentices from Hartlepool who travelled to Albi, near Toulouse, to spend a fortnight learning new building techniques at an organisation of craftsmen called Les Compagnon du Devoir.
The 20-year-old, who lives in the Stranton area of town, took part in a series of construction workshops and French language classes.
John and his fellow trainees also spent four days working on-site for a company which builds properties using traditional French construction methods, including blockwork and thin jointing.
John, who is currently working as an apprentice on Yuill Homes’ new Cecil Court development, said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the exchange trip.
“The building methods in France are completely different to what I’m used to so it was great to have the opportunity to work on-site and build with new materials like concrete.
“Working alongside other trainees and apprentices at the Compagnon training centre was also a good experience for learning new skills and techniques in traditional French construction work.
“When we weren’t working we also got the chance to visit some famous landmarks and ate some of the local food which everyone really enjoyed.”
John won the regional Guild of Bricklayers award in 2011.
Funded through the European Community Leonardo da Vinci Mobility programme, the exchange was organised after a group of apprentices from Les Compagnon du Devoir visited Hartlepool in February to take part in their own training programme and work placements.
Working in partnership with Hartlepool College of Further Education, Yuill Homes gave three French apprentices the opportunity to develop their skills working on-site as part of the exchange.
Rob Burrell, head of production at Yuill Homes, said: “We’re delighted to welcome John back on-site after what has been a fantastic trip for him to learn new skills in a trade environment very different to our own.
“We’re really proud to have worked in partnership with Hartlepool college as part of this exchange which has been a great way for apprentices from both countries to increase their knowledge and gain vital on-site experience which will help them to gain employment in the future.”
Brian Hanson, work placement officer at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “Hartlepool college is extremely proud of all our trainees who took part in the exchange.
“They all showed great enthusiasm and a willingness to learn a range of new trade skills that are primarily used in French construction.
“Each of the trainees did fantastically well both on their work placement and at Les Compagnon du Devoir and impressed the teachers with their speed and knowledge for building work.”
Mr Hanson thanked Yuill Homes for its support as part of the exchange.