Former Ford apprentices reunite at college - some after nearly five decades

apprentices reunite

Former Ford apprentices reunite. L-R: Ray Walters, Chris Dyer, Vic Brown, Dave Smith, Gary Littlewood, Gary Ellis, Ian Seekings and Nigel Cullum. - Credit: Barking and Dagenham College

A group of eight former Ford apprentices have reunited at their old college.

The men -  Ray Walters, Chris Dyer, Vic Brown, Dave Smith, Gary Littlewood, Gary Ellis, Ian Seekings and Nigel Cullum - met through their apprenticeships with the Ford Motor Company from 1970 to 1974. 

They studied at the Rush Green campus of Barking and Dagenham College and have remained firm friends since then.

However, a few had not seen each other for a long time – more than 47 years for some.

They decided to all meet up again and, if they were able, to visit their old college to take a trip down memory lane.

Gary, who now lives in Rayleigh, Essex, said: "The education and training provided by the college and the Ford Motor Company Trade School has given us gainful employment for a total of over 400 years.

"This was an opportunity to visit our old college that holds so many memories for us all."

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Gary came to the college straight from school and remembers his lecturers fondly.

On apprenticeships, Gary said: "It’s not just degrees that get you the skills for work.

"If you left Ford with an apprenticeship, then any company would be pleased to have you. 

"They know that they could rely on the skills that you learn on your apprenticeship and the same still stands today."

After completing his apprenticeship, Gary worked for Ford for four years before going on to work for a company based in Barking. He then took up a position in Ford's tractors department. 

His friend Gary Littlewood, who now lives in Liverpool, started in Ford's trade school in 1970. 

As with the others, Gary went to the Rush Green campus of Barking and Dagenham College to do some of the studying for his apprenticeship.

The 67-year-old said: "Us lads have come from all over the country and this is the first time since 1974 that some of us have seen each other.

"Looking back it was fab to go from a massive, industry trade school to be together in the classroom at the college.

"It was such a great experience that I would go back and do it again tomorrow.

"I would thoroughly recommend an apprenticeship," he added.

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