THE apprenticeship scheme run by a Tynedale tissue mill has been praised by royalty.

Three members of staff from Essity in Prudhoe enjoyed afternoon tea in St James’s Palace with HRH The Princess, Royal, Princess Anne, in recognition of the site’s apprentice training programme.

Since the scheme was launched in 2004, more than 150 young people have successfully completed an apprenticeship.

One of that total, Luke Atkinson, accompanied mill manager Tony Richards and team leader Ian Callender to London to pick up the Princess Royal Training Award on the company’s behalf.

Mr Richards said: “This was an incredible honour for Essity, and a very exciting day for the three of us, especially our apprentice Luke who had never actually been to London before.

“Our apprentice cohort brings huge value to the business, and I am immensely proud of what our young employees do for this business on a daily basis. Within five years of completing their apprenticeship, 11 have gone on to become area technicians, seven are crew leaders and five area leaders. Alongside our longer-serving employees, we now have a superb balance of talent and experience in our leadership.”

After the awards ceremony, the trio from Essity were given a tour of the House of Commons by Hexham’s sitting MP Guy Opperman.