First Employment Boost from the Sill Project

First Employment Boost from the Sill Project

Jamie Nicholson, a final year Architectural student at Northumbria University, has become one of the first people to benefit from the employment opportunities linked to the Northumberland National Park Authority’s proposed £10.5m Visitor Centre and Hostel at Once Brewed in Northumberland.

Jamie, who lives in Newcastle, has gained temporary employment on a 10 week Summer placement with the scheme’s architects, Newcastle-based Jane Darbyshire & David Kendall (JDDK) Ltd, working with lead designer, Alison Thornton-Sykes, in the preparation of material for the on-going public consultations for the project.

He commented, “My third year design project at University was a design for a new Visitor Centre at nearby Housesteads so that I was one of three students put forward for an interview for the post by the University and was fortunate enough to be selected. It’s been a very steep learning curve for me to see what goes on behind the preparation of the designs but very enjoyable and absolutely fascinating so far understanding the logistics and the legalities behind the project. It has definitely inspired me towards the profession but it’s also made me much more pragmatic and realistic about my own work.”

Alison Thornton-Sykes added, “Jamie has been a very useful addition to the team. The project involves a great deal of public consultation and it’s been a very real help to have an extra pair of hands at this stage. One of the outcomes required by the funders of the project was for employment opportunities so we’re very pleased to get the ball rolling and to have been able to offer Jamie the post.”

The Sill, so named after the adjacent Great Whin Sill, the volcanic crag on which Hadrian’s Wall is largely built, will form the heart of a seven year investment plan to enhance visitor experience beyond the roman theme so that people can be trained to make a living from managing the landscape, learn more about the beautiful landscape of Northumberland National Park and take in events across and beyond Northumberland National Park.

Stuart Evans, the Sill Project director for the National Park stated: “As well as the direct boost to the economy from visitors staying longer and taking part in more activities, The Sill aims to provide training and employment opportunities to better enable our young people to enter the job market. Getting relevant experience and a first rung on the employment ladder is so important and the National park Authority is very pleased so see the architects’ team offering Jamie such a valuable opportunity.”

The brief for the new Centre from the Northumberland National Park Authority (NNPA) and Youth Hostel Association (YHA), the development phase of which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, was for a landmark building which would become the hub of visitor activities, welcoming visitors and supporting communities throughout the Northumberland National Park.

The building will offer affordable accommodation and social spaces for young and old to meet and mix, as well as educational and learning opportunities and activities for all. It will serve as a hub from which people can explore more of the 400sq miles of Northumberland National Park, from stargazing and discovering rare flora and fauna, to learning more about traditional skills such as dry stonewalling and hedgerow laying.

The design consultation events are publicised on the Sill’s own web site  – www.thesill.org.uk.

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