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London South East Colleges students fly in to restore commemorative Spitfire fences at Biggin Hill

A group of ambitious teenagers, studying on a Prince’s Trust Team programme (Team 20) at London South East Colleges, have just completed work on an exciting restoration project at the Biggin Hill Recreation Ground.

The team were approached by a representative of ID Verde earlier this month and asked if they would take part in an initiative to give the ground a much-needed makeover ready for this year’s centenary anniversary of the RAF’s presence at nearby Biggin Hill Airport.

The students agreed without hesitation to prepare the ground’s perimeter fencing, posts and gates and get them ready for a complete re-paint. The fence panels themselves are emblazoned with the shapes of RAF Spitfires flying through blue skies and are commemorative of the famous squadron based at the airport and their role in the Battle of Britain during World War II.

Team Leader, Jane Myles helped the students devise a scheme of work that entailed a fund-raising mission to produce cakes, handmade crafts and an emoji competition and sell them to staff and students throughout the College. They raised over £400 to buy tools and materials for the project.

Firstly, the students attended the site to assess the size and cost of the job and to talk to officials regarding their given brief. There were 61 fence panels in total, each one badly in need of repair – a mammoth job considering they were a team of just ten.

The first week saw students rolling up their sleeves and getting down to the business of rubbing down panels and removing moss, lichen and flaking paint. Then, the panels were ready to paint by the Friends of Biggin Hill Recreation Ground, a charitable society that takes part in many conservation projects in the park.

As a reward for the brilliant work they have taken part in, the team were given a free guided minibus tour of Biggin Hill Airport and told all about its history. During the visit, one member of the team even managed to gain a very valuable work experience opportunity with the airport’s Fire and Rescue Service once the 12-week programme is complete.

Another member of the team, Chloe Scarlett, has agreed to continue working voluntarily at the recreation ground at weekends. She has also earned herself a work experience with a local interior decorating firm after the owner, out walking his dog in the park, stopped to chat. He was so impressed with her work and enthusiasm that he offered her the opportunity on the spot.

Team member Chloe says: “I decided to join the Prince’s Trust Team programme as I have been unable to find work as a trainee painter and decorator. I’ve had a few short-term temping jobs in retail but that isn’t really the direction I want to go in. This programme has given me a massive boost and I have particularly loved this project. I am very excited to be starting my work placement soon.”

Princes Trust Team Leader, Jane Myles, says: “I am extremely proud of the team and what they have achieved in such a short space of time. They have managed to overcome their nerves, gain confidence and learn some new skills. They have also enjoyed themselves immensely and developed a more positive mindset that will help them move forward in life.”

For information about the Princes Trust programme and the many other courses available at London South East Colleges, click here. Apply now for September!

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