Stonemasonry firm reaches new heights

CRANE MAN: Gordon Stuart gets ready to scale new heights following his specialist training.
CRANE MAN: Gordon Stuart gets ready to scale new heights following his specialist training.

A CRANE operator at a Dunbar-based stonemasonry firm received specialised training after his employer cemented a new contract to renovate an “architectural gem” in Midlothian.

Gordon Stuart, who works for G Brown Stonemason Ltd, undertook an intensive training course through the Flexible Training Opportunities programme, qualifying him to work with the equipment necessary to access Penicuik House safely. He now holds a Construction Plant Competence Scheme card.

The company, which has crafted a strong reputation for restoring historic buildings and monuments all over Scotland, has started work on the Midlothian property which is recognised as an “architectural gem” and the only one of its kind in Scotland. Penicuik House has remained a ruin since a devastating fire in the late 1870s but its trustees have now decided to preserve the remains to make it safe for visits by history enthusiasts.

Graeme Brown of G Brown Stonemason said: “Penicuik House is one of the most interesting projects we have had the opportunity to work on.

“We need to carry out complex work which requires skill and knowledge to ensure the house is safe enough for public access.”

He added: “The funding we secured through the Flexible Training Opportunities programme enabled us to provide valuable training for our employee and can now take services in-house which we would have previously outsourced. This really boosts our credentials and gives us an edge over competitors.”

The Flexible Training Opportunities programme gives businesses with under 75 employees the opportunity to apply for up to £5,000 towards employee training costs.

Launched by Skill Development Scotland earlier this year and supported by the European Social Fund, the initiative aims to help small businesses become more resilient and boost productivity, and success.

SDS will refund up to 50 per cent for training courses up to a maximum of £5,000 per business. The training can be allocated to any number of employees up to a maximum of 10.

For example, a business can opt to put 10 employees on courses with a value of £500 each, or alternatively, put one employee through 10 courses, with all variations in between.