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Wow, what a year it has been here at North Lancs Training Group (NLTG). As 2022 comes to an end, we are proud to look back on so many amazing activities that we have been involved in.

From sponsoring light switch ons and food festivals, to raising over £10,000 for Cancer Research UK with an extra special Sportsperson’s Dinner, it has been quite the year for NLTG.

With NLTG centres in Accrington, Bury and Oldham, one of our key goals is to be heavily involved in the communities where we are based, so let’s look back at some of the wonderful initiatives we have been involved with as a business in 2022.

We started the year by strengthening our team with the arrival of our new Operations Manager, Robin Lindsay. Robin joined NLTG with a wealth of experience, having worked in the education sector for over 20 years.

On joining NLTG, Robin said: “I’m delighted to be asked to join the great team at North Lancs Training Group. It’s a new challenge for me, and we’ve set the bar high by aiming to become one of the best training providers in the country. We work with some superb brands, delivering fantastic apprenticeship and work-based training opportunities, as well as providing amazing support and courses for people to get into education and employment.  I’m really looking forward to bringing my experience and ideas to such a successful training provider, and working closely with the talented team here as we enter the next great phase for this longstanding company!”

With a strengthened team and new ideas aplenty, in March we were proud to launch a flagship pilot scheme with the Hyndburn Food Pantry to get more people work and Apprenticeship ready via our courses for Job Seekers. Hyndburn Food Pantry, which is run by volunteers, helps those in need, offering them the chance to choose their own food rather than providing pre-packed parcels. Visitors to the food bank now also get the opportunity to join one of NLTG’s many courses by signing up automatically via the new e-information module which we installed on site.

It’s not just in Accrington where our training programmes have gone from strength to strength, with our Bury and Oldham centres also enjoying some fantastic feedback for our Study Programme learners, who have really thrown themselves into their studies and undertaken a number of great work placements with local employers.  Work placements are invaluable in supporting our 16-18 year old learners progress to employment, Apprenticeships or to other further education programmes, and we thank all the companies who have supported our learners throughout the year by providing work experience opportunities.

This year we have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic businesses around the country that provide workplace training through NLTG Apprenticeships, including Sika, Mencap, Property Shop and many more.

We have also continued to provide some brilliant opportunities for our young people with over 300 Apprenticeship vacancies in roles ranging from Business Administration and Customer Service to Hospitality and Furniture Occupations.

In what has been an extremely rewarding 2022 for NLTG, one of our favourite activities has been visiting local schools to inform children about the opportunities here at North Lancs Training Group after they leave school. In March we teamed up with #AmazingAccrington and Sundown Solutions to visit St Christopher’s C of E High School; in July we embarked on a tour of three local primary schools alongside Sundown, E + R Group and #AmazingAccrington.

We were also part of the Rhyddings ‘Step into Work Day’ in September when seven Hyndburn-based businesses hosted over 100 Year 9 students from the school. The students visiting NLTG enjoyed a tour of our facilities and learned about our wide variety of workplace and Apprenticeship opportunities.

In April we proudly donated hundreds of Easter eggs to local charities across Hyndburn including Maundy Relief, Carers Link Lancashire, Aawaz, Hyndburn Food Pantry and the Raza Jamia Masjid Mosque.

Carolyn Teed, Finance Officer at Carers Link Lancashire, commented: “What a lovely surprise we have had from NLTG with the donation of all these Easter eggs for our young carers, who will be so grateful. As you know, young carers are greatly unappreciated, they have a hard time and anything they receive which helps improve their lives, including such gifts, the better.”

It was back to the Hyndburn Food Pantry in May as we launched a free ‘slow cooker’ course, to help combat the hike in electricity costs when using traditional cookers. The free five-week course also saw participants receive a free slow cooker. Well done to everyone involved!

Alongside our exciting school visits, we have also been involved in some other great education-based events, including our continued classroom sponsorship at Accrington Stanley Community Trust and attendance at the Hyndburn Education Summit in May.  Held at Accrington Stanley’s stunning new hospitality venue, the Education Summit included a talk from our Managing Director, Gareth Lindsay, who featured on the event panel and spoke about the support NLTG can provide to improve digital skills.

In June we attended the Hyndburn Jobs Fair, while in October we sponsored the #AmazingAccrington Futures Event, where we saw over 1,000 Year 11 students from Hyndburn secondary schools visit Accrington Town Hall to learn about the opportunities here at NLTG.

June was an extremely busy month for us, starting with the launch of the returning #AmazingAccrington Soapbox Challenge. An event which we have taken part in for many years.

The 2022 Soapbox Challenge wasn’t any old Soapbox Challenge for NLTG however, with BBC Radio Lancashire presenter Graham Liver challenging our Managing Director, Gareth Lindsay, live on air to create a Soapbox for him and his BBC Radio Lancashire team. We’ll come back to that shortly…

Also in June, we were proud to be a main sponsor at the Accrington Food Festival. From our hospitality tutor, Paul Maguire, appearing on the main stage for several live cooking demonstrations, to hosting our very own Café Rene as part of the event’s war re-enactment and D-Day commemorations, we had a fantastic day. Not only that, but our MD Gareth Lindsay also got the chance to play the part of Rene Artois in a very special ‘Allo Allo’ sketch alongside MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden Sara Britcliffe, which took place outside St James’ Church.

St James’ Church was also the location of our very own Café Rene where we sold tea, coffee and a selection of pastries to raise funds for the church. We were delighted to raise a total of £350, which will go to supporting the upkeep of the church.

Over the summer we were also honoured to team up with Baxenden Forum and PROSPECTS to fund a bench in memory of local community hero Sheila McVan. Sheila, who sadly passed away in December 2021, was a key figure in the local area, giving hours of her time to local projects. The memorial bench is located in the Jubilee Woodland in Baxenden, close to Hollins Wood where Sheila did so much work.

In August it was back to the eagerly anticipated Soapbox Challenge. In the days leading up to the big event we proudly presented Graham Liver and Sharon Hartley from BBC Radio Lancashire with their cart for the race, which was produced by NLTG Apprentices in our CoVE (Centre of Vocational Excellence). The CoVE is NLTG’s specialist training facility for the furniture sector and is the only one of its kind in the country.

Following a visit to the CoVE earlier in the summer to check on the progress of his cart and conduct a live radio broadcast, in August we delivered the end product for Graham and Sharon for a test run ahead of the big day, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

To the event itself and over 15,000 people headed to Accrington for the 2022 #AmazingAccrington Soapbox Challenge, with our very own Alisha Clarkson doing us proud driving the NLTG cart. What an event to be involved in and a big thank you to BBC Radio Lancashire, Graham Liver and his team for choosing us to produce their cart.

With an exciting summer completed, we didn’t let those end of summer blues take over and we arranged a number of brilliant activities over the Autumn and Winter months.

In September we offered our collection of rare Titanic memorabilia to enthusiastic collectors.  This included one of only 50 ever-made replica mahogany Titanic Captain’s Tables and accompanying chairs, plus a sideboard and a replica of the Titanic itself, amongst other unusual memorabilia.

October saw us sponsor the #AmazingAccrington Halloween Shop Trail, which saw competition leaflets delivered to local schools, with children challenged to collect 10 stamps from Accrington shops before submitting their entry at our office. A huge congratulations to our three winners, Sydney Faye Jackson, Essa Hussain and Eli Shaw, who won prizes including Accrington Stanley tickets.

Talking of football, on Friday 4th November we were joined by football royalty, as former England footballer and manager Kevin Keegan OBE joined us for our Sportsperson’s Dinner at The Mercure Dunkenhalgh Hotel in Accrington, in aid of Cancer Research UK.

The former Liverpool and Newcastle forward told tales from his illustrious career on an evening which also included top comedian Josh Daniels, a wide range of auctions and raffles, as well as a meet and greet with Keegan.

Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket, sponsored the event and purchased items during the various raffles and auctions. It is down to your support that we managed to raise a fantastic £10,298.88 for Cancer Research UK.

With Christmas just around the corner, in November we were thrilled to sponsor the #AmazingAccrington Christmas Light Switch On once again. Our ‘Candy Cane’ competition went down a treat and we were delighted to be part of such a wonderful event, with spectacular live entertainment and a Christmas Market headlined by Finch Bakery.

In November we also organised a special ‘NLTG takeover’ of the Hyndburn Parkrun as part of our staff wellbeing and volunteering activities.  The event saw NLTG staff both support and take part in the event, with 118 runners and walkers taking part on the day and making it the seventh largest Hyndburn Parkrun event attendance of 2022.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved in making 2022 such a successful year for NLTG and we look forward to even bigger and better things in the new year.

We can’t wait to see what 2023 brings for NLTG!