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Royal visit for centre

DELIGHTED bosses at an Accrington training centre are celebrating after learning Prince Andrew is to open their new base.

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VISIT: Prince Andrew

DELIGHTED bosses at an Accrington training centre are celebrating after learning Prince Andrew is to open their new base.

The North Lancashire Training Group, which offers opportunities to apprentices, recently moved into its eye-catching new headquarters, Bradshawgate House, in Oak Street, Accrington. And the prince has been lined up to carry out the official opening of the £1.5M site within the next few months, although a date is yet to be confirmed.

Giving the Observer an exclusive tour of the centre, which employs around 100 staff, managing director Jim Harkness told how he set up the training provider in 1968 from a small office in Church Street.

He said: "I never thought it would become what it has done today. We provide around 2,000 apprentices with training, health and safety and all the legal information they need. In 2002, 81 per cent of all furniture qualifications awarded in the UK were delivered by us."

Explaining the group had experienced a recent surge in apprentices, he added: "At one time if students said they didn't want to go to university, it was seen as an insult. But becoming an apprentice is a good way of looking at a secure life. There are wonderful opportunities to learn a new craft.''

Work has also started on transforming the adjoining former Co-op into a new centre to train apprentices how to make furniture and to gain NVQ qualifications. The first of its kind in the country, it will feature some of the most up-to-date machinery.

  • THE last member of the royal family to visit Hyndburn was Princess Anne, who opened the Carers Link Centre at the former Blockade pub on King Street, Accrington, in October 2002, and Prospect House, home for the autistic, in Whalley Road, Altham West.