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DN Colleges Group learners help to create thriving riverside tourism business in Saint Lucia

Construction students work alongside locals to renovate old barn and build a deck and mooring area, creating a refreshments stop-off for bamboo rafters.
DN Colleges Group students working on a construction project in Saint Lucia

Construction students from the DN Colleges Group helped to kick-start a new business venture serving the local tourist industry after renovating a derelict farm building during a work placement on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

The learners’ project created a riverside stop off at the halfway point of a popular bamboo rafting excursion route, allowing a farmer to supplement his income by serving freshly picked fruits and produce from his farm – such as coconuts, bananas, and mango – to customers during their trips along the island’s Roseau River.

A wide range of students from different construction disciplines offered across Doncaster and North Lindsey colleges undertook the placement opportunity, funded by a grant from the Turing Scheme and facilitated by education travel experts Caribbean Elective.

“We had students learning plumbing, plastering and carpentry among others,” said Caribbean Elective co-founder Harry Spear. “The whole aim of the trip was for students to come together across all disciplines to complete a project which would help support developing communities in Saint Lucia.

“Students worked over two weeks on the project, finishing it just in time to hand it back to the farmer, who was overjoyed with their generosity.”

The aim was to renovate a rundown barn on the farmland, allowing the farmer to tap into the tourism trade passing by his farm and elevate the rafting experience for the tourists – benefitting both businesses, with the rafting company also being relatively newly established, and the local community.

Over two weeks the students, working alongside local volunteers, breathed new life into the old barn and built a deck and mooring area so that the rafts could stop off at the farm on their journey.

The learners helped to draw up the plans, with the support of their tutors and the locals, with a focus on sustainability, ensuring that the project used only repurposed materials – with much of the decking, for instance, being built from old wooden pallets. 

Jake Drummond, a Level 2 Plumbing student at North Lindsey College, said: “I’ve studied plumbing at college, and I knew that this was a sort of mix of trades, a mix of skill sets and, obviously, it’s a wonderful location.

It was a fantastic experience

“I came knowing that I’d hopefully develop some skills that would help me in plumbing in the future – or, if I didn’t want to do plumbing, then I have got a wider base. On the whole, I feel like I’ve progressed quite a lot and learned quite a lot.

“I was the only plumber chosen and it was good getting to know everyone and working with other people, which I don’t really get to do in plumbing necessarily. It’s quite a solo sort of job and it’s been good to have some sort of team skills, team effort.

“I’ve never really been abroad, and I’ve never experienced anything like this sort of country. I thought it was an excellent opportunity to experience the culture – something that’s not just the UK, not just Scunthorpe. It’s just a wonderful country. I’ll come back on holiday, I think.”

Theresa Chiles, an Advanced Carpentry and Joinery student at Doncaster College, said: “I just thought it was a fantastic experience. I wanted to be able to do something good with the skills that I’ve learned already at Doncaster College.

“I knew some of the students but there were some from North Lindsey College and basically, we were all together, we were part of a team. We worked together and we got on really well because we all had the same end goal in mind.

“We wanted to do something good for a person that was trying to do better for himself and with his life and I just thought it was a great cause. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.”

Udum Ghale, a Bricklaying student at Doncaster College, said: “It’s a good experience. My first time working with wood. It’s a good opportunity to see what I can do, what I can learn – and it’s Saint Lucia, who wouldn’t want to come?”

The legacy of the students’ efforts is a business venture which continues to thrive and develop.

“The local community was extremely thankful and appreciative of the work of the students and we are pleased to report that the new business is now flying,” reports Harry Spear. “The farmer is engaging with tourists on a daily basis and the business has now expanded its offering to provide lunches cooked by BBQ on the decking with local produce.” 

Linda Sykes, International Coordinator for DN Colleges Group, said: “Our students had the opportunity to gain great work experience, but just as important was the chance for them to contribute to the community in Saint Lucia and be able to leave a small, but important legacy.  It was a very successful activity.”


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