More than 60 Sunderland College students have helped to spruce-up the environment around an iconic landmark on the North East coastline.
Working in partnership with the National Trust, the students have been taking part in a community project to improve the area near Souter Lighthouse in Marsden, South Tyneside.
The three-week scheme involved students rolling up their sleeves to take part in a variety of tasks including beach clean-ups, forestry management, wildlife habitat creation, memorial bench renovation and footpath clearing.
They also got the chance to visit Souter Lighthouse and find out more about the historic red and white hooped beacon, which opened in 1871 and was the first lighthouse in the world built to be powered by electricity.
All of the projects took place on National Trust-owned land at Whitburn Coastal Park and Nature Reserve, and the area around Marsden Beach.
Dougie Holden, National Trust assistant ranger, said: “It has been refreshing to work with such an enthusiastic group of young people. The work they’ve undertaken will have a positive and lasting impact upon the coastal environment.”
The students who carried out the project are part of Sunderland College’s Connect programme, which is open to 14-25 year olds and gives young people the chance to try out different careers.
Students on this programme gain a nationally recognised qualification and they take part in vocational course taster sessions, work experience placements, and careers advice and guidance workshops. They also receive assistance with personal and social development and help to gain or improve English and maths qualifications.
Connect student Sophie Binyon, aged 19, said: “We all really enjoyed our time at the lighthouse and carrying out the tasks. We were very pleased with how the projects turned out and we feel that we made a valuable contribution to the area. It was nice to get such good feedback and we would be very happy to take part in any future volunteering at the lighthouse and for the National Trust.”
Mick Reavey, lecturer for the Connect programme, added: “This was an interesting and varied project for our Connect students and their enthusiasm shone through. Taking part in this project has not only given students the chance to complete voluntary work to benefit the local community, but it has also helped them to develop an awareness of their local environment and improve their team working skills.
“They all worked very hard to complete the tasks on time and we were delighted with the results – the environment around Souter Lighthouse has been improved and the students received lots of positive comments from members of the public.”