Partnership helps Berwick college students

An innovative partnership between a college and a community transport organisation has enabled the launch of a new vocational course in Berwick .

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 08:28 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 10:31 am

Ashington-based WATBike rode to the rescue following a call-out for bicycle parts, tools and equipment by Northumberland College to enable its Berwick campus to offer a new Level One City & Guilds qualification in cycle maintenance.

Delivered as an introductory programme for the college’s annual intake of motor vehicle and engineering students, the five-week-long course aims to provide students with a well-rounded flavour of the type of activities they can expect for the duration of the course, as well as teamworking experience and an additional qualification which they can add to their CV to help them find work.

Richard Redpath, automotive engineering lecturer at Northumberland College, said: “Cycle maintenance is a brand-new City &Guilds qualification which we were eager to explore with our motor vehicle and engineering students.

“However, we struggled to find any companies locally which could help us to source the tools and equipment we needed to get the course up and running.

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“I live in Ashington so I was aware of WATBike and the work they do in the local community. On the off-chance that they might be able to help, I called in one day and to my delight, they offered to loan us everything that we needed.”

WATBike provided half a dozen second-hand bicycles for the students to work on as part of the course, as well as a range of parts and tools and a specialist work stand.

Claire Blake, cycling development manager at WATBike, said: “We were delighted to support Northumberland College with its cycle maintenance project.

“Everything that we do at WATBike has the interests of the local community at its heart, so being able to give something back to benefit the college students felt like a good fit.”

WATBike is a ‘spin-off’ from the well-established, North East-based charity WATBus which provides accessible minibus transport for volunteers and community groups across the region.

Established in 2010 after the organisation was donated a bike trailer to add to its fleet of community vehicles, the project has grown organically over time and now runs guided bike rides as well as its own workshop in Ashington where a team of volunteer mechanics refurbish second hand bikes to then sell on to the public not-for-profit.

“Enabling people to get fit and healthy through the provision of sustainable transport is a big part of our charitable ethos,” Claire added.

“Two of the bicycles that were reconditioned by the students at Northumberland College were actually sold on to a group of asylum seekers through the Barnabas Project so we’re delighted that the work completed by the students has had such a positive outcome.”

To find out more about WATBike, visit