The grant, from family-founded, grant-making trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation has been awarded to North East charity, The Auckland Castle Trust (ACT), to fund up to 28 apprenticeships in the new Walled Garden at Auckland Castle over the next three years.

This includes opportunities in horticulture, catering, visitor services and heritage building, which will all be known as The Weston Bursaries.

The £1million grant – the second given to Auckland Castle Trust by the Garfield Weston Foundation in 2016 – is among more than £900million donated by the Foundation to good causes across the UK since it was established in1958 and represents the funder’s ongoing focus on supporting charities and voluntary organisations across North East England.

The Foundation’s Director, Philippa Charles, said; “The Weston Bursaries are an important part of our work in the North East region and we look forward to seeing talented young people build successful careers and contribute to their community – we are confident the region will benefit from all that Auckland Castle has to offer”.

Auckland Castle’s Walled Garden, where The Weston Bursaries will operate, will be a reimagining of the palace’s original 17th century plot, with the addition of a contemporary restaurant to utilise the new garden’s home-grown produce.

Due to launch in 2018, the garden forms part of a much wider £70m regeneration programme by the Auckland Castle Trust, designed to transform Bishop Auckland into a faith, art and heritage destination of international significance and help bring about an economic transformation of the town.

It is hoped that this project, which also includes a new Spanish art gallery and research centre, will create more than 7,000 opportunities for heritage skills and training over the next three years, with The Weston Bursaries offering a direct route for developing new skills.

Rebecca Coates, Human Resources Director for Auckland Castle Trust, said:  “We are very pleased to be working with the Garfield Weston Foundation to fund 28 apprenticeships in Auckland Castle’s Walled Garden.

“The Weston Bursaries and other, similar initiatives, will play a key role in helping to prepare the workforce in Bishop Auckland for the employment opportunities that will arise with the restoration of the Castle, as well as the wider regeneration of the town as a whole.”

Further details surrounding The Weston Bursaries, as well as their specific application process, will be announced in due course.  In the meantime, more information about Auckland Castle Trust and its future plans can be found at www.aucklandcastle.org

Further details about the Garfield Weston Foundation are also available at www.garfieldweston.org