John Surtees, Andrew Brown, Grant Akers, Councillor Mrs Kathleen Archer and Councillor Dora Fraser

A young horticulture apprentice got the prefect birthday surprise today when he was rewarded with a full time job from his employer.

Grant Akers, from Easington, who also celebrates his 18th birthday today, was offered the permanent position after impressing bosses at Easington Colliery Parish Council during his 18-month apprenticeship.

Grant, who has been working as an apprentice in the Parks and Grounds Maintenance Team based at Easington Colliery Cemetery, thought he was being presented with a card and present for his birthday but Councillor Mrs Kathleen Archer had an extra surprise for Grant when she was also able to tell him the additional good news.

“I’m a little lost for words to be honest,” remarked Grant on hearing the news.

“I thought I was being given a birthday card and new spade as it was my eighteenth, but when the councillor said I was being given a full time job I couldn’t believe it.

“I’m buzzing. I’m absolutely made up and can’t wait to tell my family the news when we go for my birthday meal out tonight.”

Councillors Mrs Kathleen Archer and Mrs Dora Fraser, Chair and Vice Chair respectively of Easington Colliery Parish Council, attended the short presentation at Easington Colliery Parish Council’s Cemetery Lodge.

Councillor Archer said: “You’ve proved you are a good worker and not shy of hard work.

“All the team here at the cemetery speak very highly of you Grant, you have shown a great attitude during your apprenticeship.

“I’m delighted to be able to tell you that we are offering you a full time job on the team.

“Well done, you really deserve it, and I hope you have a very happy eighteen birthday.”

Mr John Surtees, Superintendent of the parks team, who organised the surprise presentation, added: “We are thrilled to be able to offer Grant a full time job and it was great to be able to give him the news on his birthday. He had absolutely no idea about it.

“Grant has shown that if you work hard, and he certainly does, that you get the reward in the end.

“He’s a great lad, an absolutely brilliant worker and we are really pleased he’s now going to be a permanent member of the team.”

As part of his apprenticeship, Grant also spent one day at week training at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus in Durham.

His lecturer at Houghall, Mr Alan McManus, said: “Grant has been a terrific student.

“He joined us after starting on a BTEC in Engineering at another college but he soon realised he’d made the wrong choice.

“It’s a great feeling when you get a student onto the right career path for them and they enjoy it and flourish.

“Congratulation Grant, happy birthday, and good luck in your future career."

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