A first for Fenland as the ground is broken to prepare way for horticultural training centre

Cutting of the Sod' for the new skills centre at Delamore, Wisbech St Mary. On the spade is Left: Wa

Cutting of the Sod' for the new skills centre at Delamore, Wisbech St Mary. On the spade is Left: Wayne Eady Managing director of Delamore and Cllr Alan Melton. - Credit: Archant

A SOD cutting ceremony today marked the beginning of a horticultural apprentice training centre being built on the outskirts of Wisbech.

Fenland Council Leader Alan Melton first dreamed up the idea two years ago and today’s ceremony was the next stage in the centre becoming a reality.

It is being built next to a half an acre glasshouse extension recently completed by Delamore Young Plants at Wisbech St Mary and will provide a training hub for the company’s six apprentices.

However as the apprentice ‘school’ takes shape more apprentices are expected, as the company hopes to support training in such areas as fork lift truck driving.

Wayne Eady, managing director of the £7million a year turn over company, said ground work would commence in coming weeks and construction will take place this summer.

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He said of the seven apprentices that joined in September, only one has dropped out “and I am quite pleased with that. The retention rate is much higher than we expected.”

Delamore now employs up to 100 full time workers and a further 80 seasonal staff at their Wisbech St Mary site.

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Mr Eady revealed he had recently recruited a meteorologist who joins a conference call with himself and his management team weekly.

“The idea is to work out trends which can be vital for our business,” he said. So far most information had been good except the forecaster was getting the trends right but usually a week behind.

“According to him this cold spell should have been a week ago,” said Mr Eady. “The information is helpful in triggering a number of levers and especially for our sales force”.

Cllr Melton said the council and College of West Anglia had worked closely to provide the new centre.

“This is the first stage,” he said. “Fenland Council has been proactive in creating high skilled jobs and in an old industry that has great potential. I am genuinely enthused by this.”

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