A team of nine apprentices from Amber Taverns across the North East is celebrating the success of a special community event which helped to teach a group of young people with learning difficulties how to organise and run an event for family and friends.

The event, held on Sunday 2 April at Amber Tavern’s Pig Iron pub in Middlesbrough was created as the team’s effort to get through the regional heats of the Brathay Apprentices Challenge, and another step closer for the group to claim the prestigious ‘Apprentice Team of the Year 2017’ title.

The apprentices, who are all undertaking hospitality and catering apprenticeships with specialist training provider, HIT Training, invited members of the South Tyneside’s Kids And Young Adults Klub (KAYAK) to the pub to learn new skills in an interactive, hands-on environment.

Four training stations were set up where the KAYAK learners could try their hands at making mocktails, preparing buffet food and cake decorating, setting up AV equipment and DJing, and using IT skills to create records of achievement.

Following the training led by the apprentices, friends and family of KAYAK members later joined the party to sample their loved ones’ new hospitality know-how, and enjoy the party atmosphere. Also in attendance to support the apprentices and initiative was Labour MP for Middlesbrough, Andy McDonald.

One KAYAK member who particularly enjoyed the day’s festivities was 27-year-old James Riley. The Danny Dyers fan was overjoyed to be able to style himself as the EastEnders favourite, while working in a pub.

James said: “Had an absolutely fantastic day at Middlesbrough with my amazing group the KAYAKS. Me and my friends did loads of work DJing, meet and greet, making cakes, preparing food and then did our own certificates. Absolutely fabulous day.”

Lyndsey Urwin, trainer assessor at HIT Training, which is a member of North East Learning Providers (NELP), a confederation of training providers which deliver work based learning, said: “We are very proud of our team of apprentices. They did an amazing job of sharing their individual skills and everyone involved from KAYAK had a fun-packed day while learning something new to take away. “

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald commented: “I think everyone understands the importance of an apprenticeship to kick start your career. For some that presents quite unique challenges so it was a real pleasure to meet the young apprentices and celebrate their talents.

“The hospitality industry is an important part of Middlesbrough’s growing service economy so what better place in which to learn and practice new skills as well as from some of the best in the business. I want to say ‘good luck’ to everyone involved and look forward to when the national prize-winners are announced that the trainees I met today will be among them”.

The Brathay Apprentice Challenge is delivered by the Brathay Trust and the National Apprenticeship Service, with regional heats closing at the end of April.

To win the Challenge, teams take on a series of exciting and interactive work-related challenges to develop new skills and showcase their employer by engaging with young people and businesses to promote the benefits of apprenticeships. The challenges are designed to demonstrate team building, leadership, logistical and communications abilities.