THE National Motor Museum at Beaulieu has appointed its first female workshop apprentice.
Emily Leese, 18, from North Baddesley, near Southampton, will help the museum’s experienced workshop team maintain and restore the collection of more than 250 historic vehicles.
The classic car fanatic, who has been a museum volunteer since she was 14, is starting a four-year apprenticeship, funded by members of museum trust support group The Beaulieu One Hundred.
Her training will be overseen by apprenticeship provider Heritage Skills Academy, which specialises in enabling trainees to work towards industry-standard qualifications as part of its Heritage Engineering Apprenticeships programme, tailored to the specialist automotive restoration industry.
Spending most of her time based in the museum workshop at Beaulieu to gain vital hands-on experience, Leese will also study the skills of the trade with Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialist P&A Wood in Essex as block release study, working towards Level 2 and 3 Diplomas in Classic Vehicle Restoration.
Funding for this block release part of her training will be covered by the Automotive Apprentice Bursary awarded by the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers of London. Draper Tools has also given her a comprehensive tool kit and chest.
Museum manager and chief engineer Doug Hill said: ‘Ever since Emily first visited us for work experience four years ago, I have been impressed by her enthusiasm and determination. I was the last apprentice to complete my training here at the National Motor Museum 40 years ago, so it makes me exceptionally proud to offer this opportunity to a new recruit by employing Emily as our apprentice in the workshop.
‘It has been a long process to make that happen, but with the help of our sponsors, the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs and many others, we can move a huge step forward in ensuring our legacy of knowledge is safe for the future.’
Museum trust chief executive and Beaulieu managing director Russell Bowman said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Emily to the workshop. In her previous role as a volunteer, she has already proven herself to be a very dedicated and hard-working team member. By learning specialist maintenance and restoration skills from our experienced engineers, she will be helping to safeguard the museum’s vehicle collection. We wish her a very long and happy career at Beaulieu.’
Leese said: ‘It’s good fun being in the workshop and getting involved. All of the guys have been really good. They’re a welcoming bunch, so I definitely feel like part of the team and I’m really enjoying working here.
‘I get involved in whatever projects are being worked on, from cleaning and polishing to putting things back together. Recently, I helped to refit the engine to our 1930 “Blower” Bentley, helping to steady the engine and to line everything up.
‘I don’t know why I love cars so much but I have done so ever since I was about three years old. My parents aren’t into cars, so I guess it all came from me. Fixing things is my passion. I was always playing with toy cars when I was a child and wanted to be an AA lady! Even then, I decided that I wanted to have the knowledge to fix a broken-down car.
‘I came in for work experience and they couldn’t get rid of me! I have become much more outgoing and confident since I have been coming here, as I used to be very shy.’
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