Apprentices riding high at retirement home for horses

Posted on by karen.smith

English | Cymraeg

Happy Horse Retirement Home owner Nicky Van Dijk with staff members Jade Hanley and Marc Pugh.

Happy Horse Retirement Home owner Nicky Van Dijk with staff members Jade Hanley and Marc Pugh.

The owners of the first private retirement home for horses in Great Britain are passionate about developing staff through apprenticeship programmes.

Nicky and Ray Van Dijk, owners of Happy Horse Retirement Home in Crai, near Brecon, opened the centre in 1989 and now have eight staff who care for 50 horses.

The company has helped train nine apprentices in the past five years, most of whom have gone on to careers in the equine industry. One former apprentice represents Great Britain in harness driving.

Now Happy Horse Retirement Home has been shortlisted for this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru. The company will be competing to become Small Employer of the Year at the prestigious awards ceremony at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on October 20.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the coveted awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and supported by media partner, Media Wales.

Thirty star learners, employers and learning providers involved in the delivery of successful skills programmes across Wales have been shortlisted for the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru.

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

The awards are designed to showcase and celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers, tutors and assessors who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships and Apprenticeship programmes.

Happy Horse Retirement Home is no stranger to the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru as assistant manager Marc Pugh won the Jobs Growth Wales Outstanding Achiever Award last year. His success story has inspired others to enter the equine industry.

The company offers a variety of staff training, ranging from Foundation Apprenticeships to a Higher Apprenticeship and tailored personal training designed to achieve individual goals are developed. The apprenticeships are delivered by Coleg Cambria.

Nicky Van Dijk said: “The Apprentice Programme is essential to our business, meets my specialist staffing needs as a yard owner and appeals to our students because of the career avenues we can open up for them. Our success lies in our outstanding apprentices.”

Katy Davies, Coleg Cambria’s equine assessor, said: “There is a real shortage of skilled workers in the equine industry and even more so in these remote places in Wales. Nicky enables young people to find their niche, gain valuable qualifications and set themselves up for a successful future.”

Praising the standard of applicants this year and congratulating Happy Horse Retirement Home on being shortlisted for an award, Skills and Science Minister, Julie James said: “This year’s shortlisted entrants include exceptional individuals who have excelled in their workplace and learning providers and employers that have gone the extra mile to support the apprentices they are working with. Their stories never cease to amaze and inspire.

“Apprenticeships and vocational skills training are essential ingredients of economic success and vital tools in building a stronger, fairer and more equal Wales.

“These awards provide a perfect platform to celebrate success and reward the hard work and dedication of learners, employers and training providers across Wales. I wish everyone the very best of luck for the night.”

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