Construction students at Sunderland College have won a haul of awards after working on a year-long heritage project involving one of the city’s oldest parish churches.
Three teams from the college scooped eight accolades for the work they undertook at Holy Trinity Church in Hendon as part of the Heritage Skills in Education (HSed) project.
The Grade 1 listed building, which dates back to 1719, was recently awarded a £2.6million grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards a £3.6million scheme to transform the church into a cultural heritage centre.
Students from Sunderland College were assigned the church as their heritage project by HSed and were required to meet a brief, reflecting the extensive work that will need to be undertaken to convert the building into a cultural venue.
Two of the groups, made up of HNC Construction and the Built Environment students, were tasked with completing a condition survey of the building and the third group, who are studying a Level 2 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery, were set the job of producing a scaled copy of the church rafters.
All three groups triumphed at the HSed Awards ceremony held at CastleGate in Newcastle last week, with the students winning ‘Best Practical Project’, ‘Best Overall Project’ in the technical and professional category, and ‘Best Condition Survey of a Listed Building’ among their eight-strong collection of trophies.
Gerry Ruffles, construction management lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “The students were fully committed to this project and as well as their interest in the history of the building, they also developed a love and appreciation for historic buildings and the need for sensitive restoration.
“All of the groups involved in the project worked in an extremely professional manner, and I’m very proud and pleased that the students have been awarded for their efforts and accomplishments.
“Taking part in projects like the HSed initiative is very rewarding for our students, as it ties in well with their studies and also gives them valuable practical experience of complex and intricate restoration projects.”
The HSed project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and works with students across the region to inspire and inform young people about careers in the built heritage sector.
Delivered by the North of England Civic Trust, the project organises a programme of visits to local historic buildings as well as practical sessions in heritage skills and mentoring from professionals, with teams of students presenting their work to a panel of expert judges at the end of the academic year.
Elanor Johnson, education and engagement co-ordinator at North of England Civic Trust, said: “All the Sunderland College students who took part in the HSed project this year showed a great commitment to understanding and conserving the wealth of historic buildings we have in the North East. The level of professionalism, thoroughness, and understanding shown by the winning teams this year was extremely high – the future of our historic buildings is in safe hands!”
Gerry added: “It has been a very successful year for the construction department and our students who have brought home a range of awards. We are looking forward to keeping the momentum going over the next academic year as we prepare for our move to the new multi-million pound City Campus.”
The accolades presented to Sunderland College’s construction students throughout the year also include the Chartered Institute of Building North East Student of the Year, awarded to HNC student Chris Armstrong, and first and second place in the North East Inter-Colleges Bricklaying Competition, presented to students Connor Pearson and Jordan King.
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