A SCHEME to teach traditional rural land management skills to youngsters via modern apprenticeships has been given the financial go ahead.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the Lake District National Park Authority £449,000 in its latest round of funding announcements.

It will fund a project which will focus on teaching apprentices practical rural heritage skills such as dry stone walling and hedge maintenance.

The project will also aim to raise awareness about traditional local skills which have helped shape the Lake District over many centuries.

The first apprentices could begin working as early as July.

The bid was made in partnership with United Utilities, The National Trust, Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency. Newton Rigg College is also a partner and will provide the formal training and qualifications for the initial six apprentices who will be led by a supervisor.

Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said, “We at HLF are delighted to be able to support the Lake District National Park Authority apprenticeship scheme. Traditional land management and rural craft skills are an inherent part of the cultural landscape of the Lake District, but with changes in working practices they are in danger of being lost.

“This project will help conserve this knowledge, and ensure that it is passed on to younger generations so that the diverse heritage of Cumbria is preserved long into the future.”

LDNPA Park Management Leader Chris Tomlin added: “This is fantastic news to be told that that HLF strongly supported our bid for a new apprentice team. This project will make a big difference to these individual youngsters, and all of us at the national park are so excited about getting started in the summer,”

Businesses are being invited to become involved in the apprenticeships by sponsoring specific aspects of the scheme including vehicles, trailers, clothing and tools. Anyone interested should contact Chris on 01768 871402.