Youngster thrives on Codnor Castle training scheme

From lef: Reece Evans, heritage trust chairman Rokia Brown, Reeces brother Callum and trustee Maureen Taylor.

From lef: Reece Evans, heritage trust chairman Rokia Brown, Reeces brother Callum and trustee Maureen Taylor.

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A keen amateur historian is looking forward to a brighter future after completed a ten week work experience scheme at Codnor Castle.

Reece Evans has been helping to pilot a sensory education initiative with the castle’s heritage trust, in conjunction with the Ecclesbourne Lodge transition home in Duffield.

The 23-year-old, who has autism, has worked alongside trust staff and volunteers on a programme of bespoke activities designed to make local history more accessible for people with special educational needs.

Ecclesbourne Lodge spokesman Lucy Vickers said: “He’s done an absolutely fantastic job. In the ten weeks he’s been there he’s completed learning about the castle, re-interpreting the history and archaeology though sensory input.

“He has learned about everything from dressing a 17th century Jacobean Table, to planting flowers and herbs.”

Reece can often find routine tasks challenging, but he wasted no time enthusiastically pitching in with making drinks, laying out refreshments, sweeping and tidying the farmhouse, and collecting wood and kindling for the fire.

As well as allowing the trust to learn from working with Reece, he has been able to gain valuable workplace skills as he looks forward to living independently in future.

The scheme has been so successful that Reece has decided to continue doing work experience at the castle even now the pilot scheme has finished.

Lucy said: “Reece has also benefitted from personal and lifeskills development by working in the community, and building his confidence while being around unfamiliar members of the public.”

Ecclesbourne and the trust staged a joint presentation ceremony on Monday, January 30, when Reece’s family, friends and support workers saw him receive a certificate of achievement.

Trust chairman Rokia Brown said: “It’s important for young people, but especially Reece, to feel as if they are part of something, and belong within society.

“I have seen his confidence grow and grow.”

To learn about the castle, visit www.codnorcastle.co.uk.