nene local | helen dawson


Category: Peterborough & Elton

Former Paratrooper Encourages others to take the Apprenticeship Plunge

A paratrooper who was forced to quit the army due to health reasons says becoming an apprentice electrician was the best thing he could have done to turn his life around.

Michael Parr, 28, of Great Glen, Leicestershire was discharged from the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment after suffering hearing loss in one ear as a result of firing heavy weapons.


Since becoming an apprentice at RK Electrical Mechanical Services in Northamptonshire he has his feet firmly on the ground and hopes to encourage others to consider apprenticeships when faced with having to make a career change.


Speaking of his experience during National Apprenticeship Week (8-14 February), Michael said: “On leaving school I went on to study farming, I’d worked on a farm since I was 13 and knew this was something I wanted to do. I studied farm management and worked in the industry for eight years.”


After spending two years working on farms in Australia Michael decided the time was right to follow a life-long ambition to join the army and in 2014 he took the plunge.


He said: “I went overseas quite a lot on training exercises, completing various parachute jumps. I loved everything about it and was devastated when after just four years I was discharged for becoming deaf in one ear from firing heavy weapons.


“I didn’t really know what to do, a career in the army was my life ambition. I didn’t have a back-up plan and I needed one fast.”


Michael decided to retrain to become an electrical engineer.


He said: “I decided to throw myself into a new career. I had excelled in the army and I knew I would excel as an electrician. I could transfer all the skills I had learnt in the army into relearning a trade. I asked around and was told about RK Electrical Mechanical Services.”


The award-winning Desborough-based employer specialises in providing high-quality electrical, plumbing and heating services over a number of industry sectors, including housing developments, social housing sites and industrial, commercial and domestic properties.


Apprenticeships in electrical plumbing and heating, including gas, are offered to successful candidates on completion of a two-week trial.


Michael will complete his second year in March.


He added: “Being an apprentice is so much better than I expected it to be. I’ve had fantastic support from everyone at the firm and I would tell anyone faced with a situation like mine to go with their gut feeling, don’t let the word ‘apprentice’ put you off.


“As much as I wanted to stay in the army I knew that becoming an electrician would be better for my future and the time goes so fast. When I was told I was getting discharged from the army I really didn’t think I’d be where I am now.


“I knew a bit about electrics and decided to go for it and I would encourage others to do the same.”


RK Electrical Mechanical Services is currently supporting seven apprentices across both the electrical and mechanical sides of the industry.


Kye Bishop, Business Development Manager, added: “Apprenticeships have a key role in helping the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and we are proud to be able to help people like Michael to retrain and up-skill. Our apprenticeship scheme supports our commitment to organically grow the business and create our own professional, highly-skilled workforce.”


On completion of the apprenticeship programme candidates will have taken the necessary steps to be qualified as either an electrical or mechanical engineer.


Anyone interested in finding out more about the RK Electrical Mechanical Services apprenticeship scheme can contact Kye Bishop 01536 601900, email: or sign up to a monthly e-newsletter here.




Love your Local Environment this Valentine’s Day

Each year, here in the UK, we spend an estimated £1.45 billion on Valentine’s gifts. For 2021, why not buy your loved one a meaningful gift that will brighten up their day as well as making a difference for future generations?

The environmental charity PECT is offering an eco-friendly gift option this springtime. For just £10 for one or £50 for five, you can gift your loved one with a tree to make a positive difference to the environment. This meaningful present helps to tackle climate change and addresses biodiversity loss in the city.


“The arrival of the global pandemic in 2020 made us all realise that the most important things in life aren’t material goods,” explains PECT’s Director of Operations Stuart Dawks. “Instead, it is about caring for loved ones, making the most of experiences, and helping communities to pull together. That’s why we feel this represents the ideal gift – it’s your chance to give something back to the local environment.”

 Love trees PECT

PECT’s Forest for Peterborough project aims to plant 230,000 trees across Peterborough by 2030. Your purchase will enable the charity to plant and maintain a tree, helping to create a network of wooded areas across the city. Each tree is maintained and protected, allowing it to grow and thrive for generations.


The events of the past year have taught us exactly how much spending time in nature matters. National and regional lockdowns have meant that, more than ever, we have understood how important it is to maintain and develop outdoor spaces to support people’s wellbeing. Spending time in nature is proven to lift our mood, reduce stress, and improve our physical health.


By gifting a tree, you can contribute towards creating a thriving space for the community to enjoy. To buy a tree this Valentine’s, simply visit to donate and then PECT can send you a digital certificate confirming your gift.

Willingness to Take Part in COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Across Region

Thousands of people across the East Midlands are putting themselves forward to take part in COVID-19 vaccine research trials driven by a desire to generate faster results and to help others in their community, according to new research revealed today.

Council and police hold joint patrols to support pandemic restrictions

A survey carried out in the region reveals that more than two in three (69%) people would consider putting themselves forward to take part in research to find a vaccine to slow the spread of the virus.


Amongst those who said that they would consider taking part in vaccine research, the most powerful motivations included supporting research to deliver faster answers (85%) and helping others in my community (59%). Three quarters of all respondents (76%) identified support to help with transport and childcare as something that would encourage them to volunteer to take part in research.


The findings, released by the Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic Health in Leicester, and the NIHR Clinical Research Network East Midlands, come from a survey conducted to understand more about attitudes towards vaccine research and how they differ across different communities.


Research studies are testing the effectiveness of a range of candidate vaccines to determine their safety and efficacy before those that are successful are rolled out to the general public. An essential part of trials is ensuring that they work effectively for people from different communities. The data and responses from this survey are being analysed to inform the creation of content to inform and encourage members of the public to take part in COVID-19 vaccine trials.


The findings show that attitudes towards research participation change over age. Six in ten (62%) of respondents aged 18-44 said that they would consider taking part in COVID-19 vaccine research, rising to three-quarters (77%) of people aged 45+. In addition, the survey found that people from White communities were more likely (76%) to say that they would consider participating in research to find a vaccine than those from Asian (53%) and Black (38%) communities.


Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director of the NIHR ARC East Midlands and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said:


“We are proud to be delivering vital vaccine research in the East Midlands and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has signed up to support this important work. It is essential that vaccines work effectively for people from all backgrounds, and the results of this survey are helping us to better understand the different motivations and barriers that can affect participation in research. We will be using the findings to encourage all research sites within our region and beyond to ensure that research is as inclusive as possible.”


The survey results also indicate that people with previous experience of either receiving a vaccine or taking part in research are inclined to do so again. The proportion of people who said that they would consider taking part in COVID-19 vaccine research rose to 74% amongst those who received a flu vaccine last year, and 78% amongst those who have previously been involved in clinical trials.


Professor Khunti added:


“It is extremely pleasing to see that people who have a history of either taking part in research or receiving a flu vaccine are more likely to consider joining the research effort to find a vaccine for COVID-19. This is testament to the positive experience of research that the overwhelming majority of participants have, and shows that people who receive vaccines are clear about the benefits of doing so and the impact that a vaccine for this virus could have.


“The news on vaccines in recent weeks has been incredibly uplifting, but there is more work to do. We need people to continue signing up to support COVID-19 vaccine research so that we can test a range of different vaccines and ensure that we find vaccines that can protect as many people as possible. I would encourage everyone across the East Midlands to step forward and be part of this enormous research effort.”


So far, over 28,000 people across the East Midlands have signed up to support COVID-19 vaccine research through the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry, with over 350,000 registrations from across the UK. The registry enables researchers to quickly contact people who have expressed their interest in taking part in vaccine trials to ensure that studies can be delivered quickly and effectively.


Research teams across the East Midlands have been involved in the delivery of three COVID-19 vaccine trials. To find out more about research and to sign up to support vaccine research, visit

Get into the Festive Spirit with PECT’s New Nature’s School Resources

Get into the festive spirit with PECT’s new Nature’s School resources


2020 has taught us how much spending time with our families in the great outdoors matters. National and regional lockdowns have meant that, more than ever, we have made the most of our gardens and local environment for exercise, entertainment, and to regain a feeling of normality.


This festive season, why not have a go at some of PECT’s Christmas-themed Nature’s School activities? These newly launched resources aim to enhance children’s understanding of the world around them and allow them to discover more about the environment.

Get into the festive spirit with PECT’s new Nature’s School resources

The free downloadable activity sheets include everything from a green advent calendar, instructions for how to make your own reusable beeswax wraps, and creating recycled decorations, festive bunting, bird feeders and much more.


“With the recent news about an extended winter lockdown period and regional restrictions applying, we wanted to support families with activities that enable them to make the most of their time together, and still enjoy a green Christmas,” explains PECT’s Environmental Education Lead Heidi Latronico-Ferris.


She continues: “Our local environment is sometimes an unexplored natural resource, often overlooked for its wealth of possibilities, and not always appreciated or looked after as it should be. Take this time to turn that around and discover natural wonders, learn from Nature’s School, and in return protect it for future generations.”


Nature’s School is not just for families – schools, charities and other organisations can also benefit from this resource and use it to create new ways of delivering the curriculum and learning objectives.


To access the resources, simply visit or find PECT on Facebook @SustainablePECT.