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Paul's flourishing in new park life role; Apprenticeship scheme pays off.

Byline: NEIL ATKINSON

HE had a demanding job as an engineering consultant.

But Paul Thompson-Gough hankered for an outdoors life.

So the Marsden man quit his engineering job at the age of 35 and enrolled on an apprenticeship scheme with Kirklees Council's parks service: with no guarantee of long-term employment.

But the switch from engineering consultancy to horticulture paid off, with Paul winning a national apprenticeship award from the Association of Public Service Excellence.

Paul took up his apprenticeship in horticulture with Kirklees Council and has been based in Greenhead Park while he learns the ropes.

Paul spends three days a week working with a mobile team and two days in a classroom working towards a Level 2 diploma in horticulture.

He has so far worked at Bradley Park Golf Course, a development at Peace Pit Lane and Leeds Road Nursery.

Paul was shortlisted with five other apprentices for the APSE UK Horticultural Apprentice of the Year and went on to receive the trophy for best horticultural apprentice, at a presentation in Stoke on Trent, attended by representatives of local authorities from all over the UK.

Paul said: "In my previous 19 years of working life I worked in several roles, but mostly in technical engineering consultancy. "This was in the petro-chemical and nuclear power industry. I always wanted to pursue a career that directly related to things I am passionate about.

"After considerable thought, I decided a working life in horticulture was ideal, as this goes hand-in-hand with the great outdoors, plant life and wildlife: all the things I hold close to my heart.

"After applying for the position with Kirklees I was lucky enough to be one of the people recruited."

After the APSE awards evening, Paul said: "On the evening of the awards I sat with my wife Donna, and Steve Taylor my manager, in a total state of suspense.

"To my utter amazement I was announced as the winner and presented with my award.

"I have, without doubt, found the career I have yearned to find for many years and now regard myself as a competent gardener.

"I am hoping to secure employment within Kirklees Council and would dearly like to complete a Level 3 Diploma in horticulture with a view to progressing further within the council."

Clr Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees Council, said: "Paul is an absolute credit to Kirklees Council and a fantastic example of how apprenticeships can help people make a career change as well as get young people on the jobs ladder.

"APSE not only gave Paul his well-earned award but also presented Kirklees Council with an award for our commitment to training.

"We hope to be able to train many more like him and help them get the life and work skills they need to progress."

The Kirklees horticultural apprentice scheme has trained 20 apprentices in the last two years.

CAPTION(S):

* WINNER: Apprentice award winner Paul Gough with Kirklees Council Leader Clr Mehboob Khan and Streetscene area manager Steve Taylor (JH091111Dpaul-01)
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Nov 12, 2011
Words:502
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