Pictured at Raff Yard House at Raby Castle are: front - David Ross, Connor Woodward and Brandon Thompson; back - Nigel Stevens and Charlie Wright.

Painting and decorating students from Bishop Auckland College (@bishopcollege) are testing out their newly acquired skills refurbishing a manor house on the historic Raby Castle estate (@RabyCastle).

The seven-week project at Raff Yard House is part of a multi-million-pound investment at the historic visitor destination which has just received planning permission from Durham County Council.

Existing buildings at the medieval castle are being repurposed for mixed tourism, leisure and educational uses, along with the formation of a new car park, creation of play facilities and the erection of a new visitor arrival building and vinery cafe.

Twelve Level 2 learners from the college are working with Trades4Care on the Raff Yard House refurbishment. Formerly the home of the estate manager, the house has been empty since 2003, and is to be used initially as offices for staff during the estate developments before being incorporated into the wider scheme.

Trades4Care is an innovative Community Interest Company which gives young people valuable work experience, as part of a wider holistic life skills and employability programme, by pairing them with qualified tradespersons to work on maintenance projects at healthcare, education and community venues.

The latest collaboration with the college follows previous projects at West Lodge Care Home in Crook, Butterwick Hospice in Bishop Auckland and Stainton Village Hall in Barnard Castle.

The programme is being managed by co-founders and directors of Trades4Care Andrew Coxon, Charlie Wright and Deborah Jenkins, supported by trade colleague and trusted partner Nigel Stevens.

Charlie said: “The CEO of Raby Estates Duncan Peake and Building Manager Philip Dent are keen to work with us, offering local young people great projects within the estate and keeping them focused and enthusiastic about their construction training courses. We hope this is the first of many projects there.

“We’d also like to thank Wear Valley Decorating Centre for their kind gifts for our year one students on the Trades4Care programme for the first time.”

Michelle Andelin, Learning Area Manager for Construction and Motor Vehicle at Bishop Auckland College, added:

‘‘This is a fantastic opportunity for our painting and decorating students to gain first -hand experience in a stunning working environment and we are very grateful to both Raby Estates and Trades4Care.”

Elsewhere on the estate, the riding school, Dutch barn, stables and coach house, and walled garden are also earmarked for refurbishment. The riding school will accommodate events and exhibitions, whilst the Dutch barn will be showcased to visitors for the very first time.

The former Vinery building will be re-built to house a self-service café within a glasshouse, with the retained sheds behind used to contain kitchens, storage and toilets. The Vinery garden will benefit from an extensive landscaping scheme, revealing spectacular views across to Raby Castle.

The castle, built in the 14th century by the Nevill dynasty, is today the seat of Lord and Lady Barnard and the Vane family and is home to an impressive range of art, textiles and furniture dating from the 17th to 20th centuries. The landscaped parkland of the mid-18th century is registered as a park and garden of special interest.

Claire Jones, Head of Leisure and Tourism at Raby Estates, said:

“We are delighted to be working in collaboration withTrades4Care on this exciting project, offering a unique opportunity for students from Bishop Auckland College to use their skills.”

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