pre-apprentice students from the Borders College have delighted locals in Cardrona by applying a fresh lick of paint to the village hall, writes Christopher Wilson.
Two groups of seven students aged 16 to 22 are six months into their year-long painting and decorating course, part of the National Progression Award.
Brian McCrow, chairman of the village hall committee, was put in contact with the Borders College by Volunteer Centre Borders. The centre’s mission statement is: “To involve more people more effectively in volunteering to help make the Scottish Borders a better place to live.”
A delighted Mr McCrow was the first to say that both the Volunteer Centre and the Borders College students had indeed made the village hall a better place for the community.
The hall has not had a fresh coat of paint since it was built in 1999.
Mr McCrow said the students had been doing sterling work and told TheSouthern that the results were already being noticed: “A local art class has mentioned to me how fresh the hall was looking,” he said.
The groups have been painting the hall for the past three weeks, working two days a week for a total of six days, as part of their course designed to give thems a taste of real life experience.
“The volunteers have been a very focused group and painted the hall very well, leaving it neat and tidy each time that they have been,” said Mr McCrow. “Most importantly, they have really enjoyed the work experience and there has been no slacking from any of them.”
Barbara Hastie, the Borders College staff member in charge of the groups, said the 14 students have completed work at Milestone Garden and Leisure Centre in Newtown St Boswells and are always on the lookout for new community work projects.
She said: “We are inundated with offers of work all over the Borders, but we don’t like to take business from local painters and decorators. All our work must be for volunteer projects or charitable organisations.”
Despite offering free work, the students are finding it difficult to acquire work placements which are required for the course. “A few of our students have secured work placements, but due to the current economic climate and its effect on the construction industry, there are fewer opportunities available to them,” said Ms Hastie.
However, such is the quality of their work at the Cardrona Village Hall, there are plans for the groups to return in May for some further work. Mr McCrow said: “Things are looking good and the hope is that the students will return in the summer to carry out some sanding and repair work on the floor.”
Ms Hastie expects the students to return to the Borders College next year as full apprentices.
For more information on the Borders College or Volunteer Centre Borders visit: www.borderscollege.ac.uk or www.vcborders.org.uk