National Motor Museum employs first female apprentice

New apprentice Emily Leese, aged 18, has joined the National Motor Museum in thier experienced workshop team to help maintain and restore its collection of more than 250 historic vehicles. A young woman in an industry traditionally dominated by older men, Emily’s training will help to keep alive the essential skills needed to look after and preserve the museum’s remarkable machines.

When she completes her apprenticeship, Emily will become the first to do so since Museum Manager and Chief Engineer Doug Hill finished his apprenticeship 40 years ago.

Classic car fanatic Emily, who has been a volunteer at the National Motor Museum since the age of 14, is starting a four-year apprenticeship which is being generously funded by a small group of Beaulieu One Hundred members. The Beaulieu One Hundred membership is committed to supporting the work of the National Motor Museum Trust to preserve Britain’s motoring heritage for future generations.

Emily’s training will be overseen by apprenticeship provider Heritage Skills Academy, which specialises in enabling trainees to work towards industry-standard qualifications as part of its Heritage Engineering Apprenticeships programme, tailored to the specialist automotive restoration industry. Spending most of her time based in the museum workshop at Beaulieu to gain vital hands-on experience, Emily will also study the skills of the trade with Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialist P&A Wood in Essex as block release study, working towards Level 2 and 3 Diplomas in Classic Vehicle Restoration.

Funding for this block release part of her training will be covered by the Automotive Apprentice Bursary awarded by the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers of London, a charitable association which promotes excellence in the automotive, aerospace and rail industries. Draper Tools has generously donated a comprehensive tool kit and chest to Emily from its Draper Expert range, which will be indispensable to her over the course of her apprenticeship.

National Motor Museum Manager and Chief Engineer Doug Hill said: “Ever since Emily first visited us for work experience four years ago, I have been impressed by her enthusiasm and determination. I was the last apprentice to complete my training here at the National Motor Museum 40 years ago, so it makes me exceptionally proud to offer this opportunity to a new recruit by employing Emily as our apprentice in the workshop.

“It has been a long process to make that happen but with the help of our sponsors, the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs and many others, we can move a huge step forward in ensuring our legacy of knowledge is safe for the future.”

National Motor Museum Trust Chief Executive and Beaulieu Managing Director Russell Bowman said: “We are delighted to welcome Emily to the workshop. In her previous role as a volunteer, she has already proven herself to be a very dedicated and hard-working team member. By learning specialist maintenance and restoration skills from our experienced engineers, she will be helping to safeguard the museum’s vehicle collection. We wish her a very long and happy career at Beaulieu.”

By assisting and learning from the museum’s experienced team of five workshop engineers, Emily will help to maintain and repair a staggering variety of vehicles including prestigious veteran cars, classic racers, luxury limousines, vintage motorcycles, Land Speed Record-breakers and even the famous Beaulieu Monorail. Previously Emily, from North Baddesley in Southampton, had spent two years studying Motor Vehicle Engineering at Sparsholt College in Hampshire.

Emily said: “It’s good fun being in the workshop and getting involved. I think I fit in quite well so far and all of the guys have been really good. They’re a welcoming bunch, so I definitely feel like part of the team and I’m really enjoying working here.

“I get involved in whatever projects are being worked on, from cleaning and polishing to putting things back together. Recently, I helped to re-fit the engine to our 1930 ‘Blower’ Bentley, helping to steady the engine and to line everything up.


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