Former apprentices become Yorkshire Dales National Park apprentices

Suzannah Barningham and James Firth, new Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Access Rangers. Please credit photos courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Two former Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) apprentices, James Firth and Suzannah Barningham, have fought off stiff competition to be appointed as access rangers.

James, 27, from Leyburn, is working in Upper Wensleydale, operating out of a workshop in Hawes.

Suzannah, 28, from Low Row in Swaledale, is based in the YDNPA’s new office in Orton, working in the Westmorland Dales area that became part of the Park with its extension, last August.

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They will help maintain the public rights of way network, other access routes and open access areas.

Suzannah and James have an impressive range of skills and experience, having completed Dales Rural Apprenticeships run by the charity, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT).

The aim is to enable 16-24 year olds to live and work in the area they grew up in, while learning how to enhance and conserve the landscape.

The apprenticeships combine work-based learning with a local employer with part-time college study towards a Level 2 Diploma in Environmental Conservation or Horticulture.

While most of the apprentices go on to full time employment, permanent positions at the YDNPA are highly prized.

Suzannah Barningham said: “I’m delighted to have secured a job as an Access Ranger – it’s an exciting opportunity to work in the beautiful Westmorland Dales following the extension of the National Park.

“Having grown up in Swaledale, I have always wanted to help conserve and look after the special landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, and completing the YDMT apprenticeship scheme has provided me with the skills needed to do my dream job!”

James Firth added: “Completion of my apprenticeship with the National Park Authority in 2012 helped me go on to secure fixed term work with the Ranger Services at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and more recently at the North York Moors National Park.  To be successful in gaining a full time permanent Ranger post in the Yorkshire Dales has been a fantastic result.

“I am looking forward to working with landowners to help improve public access and bring environmental benefits to the area.”

Jo Boulter has overseen rural apprenticeship schemes at YDMT for the last 6 years. She said: “I was very proud to hear that James and Suzannah had fought off stiff competition to secure their ideal jobs. It just goes to show that these apprenticeship opportunities can be truly life-changing and often lead to rewarding careers in countryside management.”

James and Suzannah will be joining Josh Hull, who completed his apprenticeship in 2012 and went on to be appointed Three Peaks Ranger with YDNPA.  It is hoped that there will be more rural apprenticeship opportunities available in 2018.