From 28 to 31 May, 14 apprentices from across the UK’s National Parks visited the Broads as part of the first-ever National Parks apprentice exchange.
Organised by Graeme Hewitt, Senior Ranger at the Broads Authority, the event provided an opportunity for apprentices from the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and South Downs to join Broads Authority apprentices in learning more about the unique landscape and special qualities of the Broads National Park.
A highlight of the exchange was a canoe paddle along the River Waveney whilst hearing about the local flora and fauna that can be found in the rivers and broads. A disused pump-house along the river’s edge provided a talking point around how the marshes here were historically drained, and passing boats prompted the apprentices to find out about the Broads Authority’s additional responsibility to maintain the navigation.
The apprentices were also taken on a guided walk to visit the eel sett hut at Candle Dyke where a Broads Authority Ranger explained how eels were traditionally caught and exported from the rivers. This was followed by a visit to Whitlingham Country Park that focussed on how the Broads Authority manages the site as a visitor attraction, and a trip on the solar-powered passenger boat Ra.
The following day, apprentices delved into the Broads’ rich history as they were taken on a guided tour of the remnants of St Benet’s Abbey near Ludham, and Toad Hole Cottage, the traditional marshman’s house at How Hill.
The group was then transported back to Breydon Water in the mid-1800s, as the exchange was rounded off with a visit to watch a captivating performance of The Tide Jetty by Eastern Angles Theatre Company (in conjunction with Water, Mills and Marshes).
Katy Foxford, Digital Communications Apprentice at the Yorkshire Dales said of the visit,
“During the apprentice exchange we truly saw the very best of the Broads, learning all about the unique geography, ecology and history of the area.
“From rangers to planning apprentices, there were young people from a variety of different backgrounds at the exchange, providing great opportunities to network and find out more about their work.
I really hope that we can keep the apprentice exchange running as an annual trip as I think it is a fantastic way to share ideas with other apprentices and to celebrate the unique qualities of each of the National Parks.”
The apprentice exchange was even more pertinent given the recent focus on youth empowerment following the EUROPARC Conference in late 2018, which called for more opportunities for young people living and working in Europe’s protected landscapes.
Graeme Hewitt, Senior Ranger at the Broads Authority added,
“I’d like to thank all of the members of staff and volunteers who helped to make this apprentice exchange such a resounding success.
“We hope that we gave the visiting apprentices a real flavour of the special aspects of the Broads, showcasing just how different our wetland landscape is when compared to the rest of the National Parks family.
It was a real pleasure to host the first-ever apprentice exchange and to meet such an inspiring and positive group of young people. I certainly have no doubts that the future of our National Parks is in safe hands.”
It is hoped that following the success of this year’s exchange, the event will lead to future opportunities for apprentices to learn even more about the incredible landscapes that they are protecting.
Thursday 6 June 2019