North East Connected

Students fashion scrap into festive tree for children’s wishes

HAPPY children will be able to leave their festive wishes for Santa thanks to the ingenuity of young engineers.

Students from Darlington College raided the scrap skip to fabricate a beautiful Christmas wishing tree for the town’s Queen Street shopping centre.

Children will be able to attach their hopes and dreams to the tree over the festive period with their messages sent down a direct channel to Santa and his elves.

For mum of two and mature student Lucy Archer the project was an opportunity to test her new-found engineering skills and her well-honed management prowess.

“I must admit, I am comfortable within this environment and have found myself supervising the younger students,” said Lucy, who is retraining on the Level 2 performing engineering operations course.

“My sons,13 and eight, are both in school full time so I have taken this opportunity to increase my skill set with the intention of returning to work.

“I left school in 1999 and although I have attended further education in the past this was 10 years ago.

“I was surprised just how easy it has been to go back into education, thanks, I’m sure, to the support of Darlington College. My eldest has special needs and the tutors have been so understanding and helped me work around the demands this raises.”

Darlington College engineering tutor Dennis McCabe said he was delighted the students had been offered a live project and that they had risen to the challenge well.

“They literally raided our waste metal recycling skip and used old steel table and chair legs to form a very attractive tree which they welded, painted blue and even dusted with white to recreate frost,” he said.

“Its 91 leaves were hand-cut from waste metal, which resulted in a few blisters, before being hammered around a mould. They also made a copper blackbird for the top and the results were really good. I think they have produced a wishing tree to be proud of.”

Darlington College’s business development advisor Ross Lowcock said: “We are always delighted when we are approached for help by the borough’s businesses.

“In terms of student learning, there is no substitute for live projects, where they must work to a professional brief, tight deadlines and with real clients. The college’s aim is to make studying relevant to the world of work they will enter and this first experience can only inspire them in the future.”

Any organisations interested in students helping them in a variety of fields that link to their studies should contact Mr Lowcock at or visit

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