Apprentices "engineer" a "grand" donation for Donna Louise Children's Hospice

April 05, 2016

Three apprentices from KMF Precision Sheet Metal Manufacturing have teamed up with The Co-op to “engineer” a “grand” way to raise money for the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice.

The final year apprentices of the Newcastle-based manufacturer - Joe Ward, 19, Andy Frost, 20, and Josh Wheatley, 21 – were tasked with designing, manufacturing and marketing a product for sale, with all money raised, which is now standing at almost £1,000, benefiting the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice.

The trio created a range of candle holders and received retail hints and tips from Joe’s father, Steve Ward who, as Manager of The Co-op’s London Road, Chesterton store, also arranged for the engineering apprentices – based at KMF’s nearby state-of-the-art apprentice training centre – to set up shop in five Co-op food stores in the area, Chesterton, Bradwell, Talke, Audley and Waterhayes.

Joe Ward, said:

“We are all in the final year of a four year apprenticeship. The support and training has been fantastic throughout and I hope to go on to develop a career within the welding, fabrication and engineering industry. This project has been a great experience, testing and building a wide range of key industry relevant and portable skills. We initially set out to raise out to raise £750 for charity, we thought that was going to be a challenge however, with the support of KMF and The Co-op we are now going to exceed £1,000 which is amazing.”

Gareth Higgins, Managing Director of KMF, said:

“KMF's commitment to training its staff is seen as an investment in the company's future. During the 1980s we saw a dramatic decline in the number of engineering apprenticeship and we met this head on, radically rethinking our strategy for training and creating a state-of-the-art £600,000 apprentice training centre which was officially opened by the company's founder, Michael Higgins, in 2009.

“Our apprentices are taught in classes of four and the scores achieved at KMF are now significantly higher than the national average, this is as a result of the combination of improved selection, training, working practices and a greater focus on individuals in order to prepare the young people for career opportunities and further education ahead. This project is a great example of our approach, all of KMF’s apprentices are involved in the task to raise money for charity and how they raise money is entirely up to them – we are extremely proud of our apprentices, of KMF’s connections with local charities and with the support that our young people have had in the community from organisations such as The Co-op.”

Alan Smith, Area Manager for The Co-op in North Staffordshire, said:

“This is such a creative project which not only benefits the young people involved with their future career choices but supports a great local cause like the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice. As a community retailer we were pleased to explore ways in which we could support - through practical advice on retail and marketing through to providing space in five of our local food stores for the products to be sold. We are delighted that the exercise has been both a great success and learning experience for all of the apprentices involved.”

Further information


Andrew Torr
Co-op Press Office
Tel: 07702 505 551
Email: andrew.torr@co-operative.coop