Celebrating a fantastic first year for Abberton Rural Training


Abberton Rural Training has celebrated its first birthday with some amazing achievements. The project, which is being managed by Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) in conjunction with Essex & Suffolk Water and a range of other partners, delivers rural, employability and craft skills courses for the whole community from its base close to the recently extended Abberton Reservoir.


At a celebration event held on Thursday 23rd July, students conducted tours of the site and proudly showed off their skills and expertise.  As the students met John Devall, Water Director of Essex and Suffolk Water and Nick Shuttleworth, Executive Director of Rural Community Council of Essex, they gave their thoughts on the courses which included, “I have better money management. I am saving now and am planning a holiday abroad” and “it’s a brilliant course, good support, everyone’s helpful and looks out for each other.”


The success of the first year has exceeded all expectations, with 177 participants having attended courses.  Sixteen of these are now in employment and a further five are starting their own businesses. 42 are continuing in further education, 17 have registered for voluntary work and three have gone on to apprenticeships.  All full time students achieved City and Guilds Level 1 qualification and many gained additional qualifications in functional skills and English and maths.


The evaluation report produced by the Department for Work and Pensions, who supported one of the training programmes, said: “[Abberton Rural Training] offered a well-received programme at reasonable cost.  The provider made every effort to meet its referral profile and due to those efforts actually achieved over and above in terms of starts.  This is a difficult customer group due to the multiple barriers they have, so the achievements gained so far are extremely positive.”


Jacqui Stone, Project Manager for ART, said, “It has been non-stop and at times extremely hard work, but also very rewarding. I am passionate about this project and look forward to doing more in the next academic year.”


Nick Shuttleworth, Executive Director of RCCE, said, “We are delighted with the progress made by Abberton Rural Training. It will make an important contribution to the rural economy, as well as providing young people with new skills, qualifications and confidence.”


John Devall, Water Director of Essex and Suffolk Water, commented, “The Abberton Scheme secures water supplies for our customers in Essex and parts of East London – making sure we are prepared for many years into the future.


“We wanted to ensure this project left a lasting and meaningful legacy. As a business we are passionate about supporting people with education and skills training. This is why we are proud to have helped to set up the Abberton Rural Training scheme, which is providing this support to a wide range of people from different backgrounds and ages,” he said.


“It is very exciting to see how the project has moved from conception to actually helping individuals into employment and moving towards self-employment, this will change people’s lives for many years to come,” added John.