WHEN Westruther’s Scott Russell was accepted as an apprentice at the Land Rover/Jaguar dealership of Croall Bryson in Kelso four years ago, that in itself was something of an achievement.
“I had finished my sixth year at school and could have gone to university, but I felt working for such a famous marque at a garage with such an excellent reputation was a rare opportunity not to be passed up,” recalled Scott, 22, this week.
It was a decision that neither he nor his employer – which became Lloyds Land Rover Kelso in June of this year – has regretted. For Scott has been selected from more than 350 youngsters from Land Rover/Jaguar dealerships across the UK as the number one apprentice for 2010/11, receiving his accolade at a prestigious gala event at upmarket Wroxall Abbey in Warwickshire at the end of October. And there to witness their son’s achievement were his care worker mum Susan and his shepherd dad Stuart, who had made the journey to the luxury Midlands resort from the family home at Blyth, near Westruther.
Also at the award ceremony was Kenny Tice, service manager of Lloyd Land Rover Kelso.
Speaking this week from the state-of-the-art Pinnaclehill service centre, Kenny told us: “This is a fantastic achievement by a young man who has shown tremendous dedication and commitment. It is also a positive reflection on his work colleagues who have supported and mentored Scott throughout his apprenticeship.
“We are a close-knit team who place a high value on our skills and we are all very proud of Scott – it’s a great success story for our company and for the Borders.”
Scott said: “I’m delighted and thrilled to bring this award back to Kelso, especially given the level of competition from apprentices who, like me, know the standards expected by Land Rover/Jaguar. The training programme is so tough and comprehensive, which makes it all the more special for me.”
After starting with Croall Bryson, Scott spent three years at Land Rover’s in-house “college” at its main manufacturing plant at Halewood, near Liverpool, and completed his apprenticeship with a further year, honing his skills at the Kelso service centre.
Scott is a keen rally driver, competing in local Class 2 events with his customised Corsa.
So he was thrilled last week when, to show its appreciation of his achievement, Lloyds Land Rover laid on a special treat for its star pupil – an all-access tour of the M-Sport complex at Dovenby Hall in Cumbria, the nerve centre of Ford’s World Rally operation, headed by rallying legend Malcolm Wilson.
He was joined on the day by Kenny, who is another rally buff, and Rob Lindsay, franchise director of Lloyd Land Rover, who organised the trip.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Scott, who is now determined to climb the ladder of achievement in his chosen profession.
“My ambition in the long run is to achieve master technician status like Brian Whittle, who was my principal mentor when I started in Kelso, and who has continued to inspire me to succeed.”