Harry Meade with Keely and JLR Apprentices

Designing creative solutions to the everyday challenges we face, engineers have often been thought of as the problem solvers of the world.  In a bid to harness this thinking, Jaguar Land Rover has launched a volunteering scheme that pairs up some of the organisation’s brightest engineering talent with a variety of community challenges.

The employee volunteer programme has proved so popular that more than 10,000 employees have signed up, donating over 115,000 hours of community volunteering every year.  Among the success stories are apprentices Lauren Tolliday, Robert Wardle, Jason Browne and Alex Milner, who joined forces with Remap, a nationwide charity dedicated to matching skilled volunteers with those affected by disability, to overcome some of the specific challenges of daily life.

To kick off their project, the team of second year Advanced Apprentices met up with eight year old horse rider, Keeley Cullen, to observe her riding therapy session.  Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Keeley has been an avid rider since the age of three, with exercise playing an integral part of her physiotherapy.  Usually lifted onto her horse by her mum, a recent safety inspection meant this was no longer possible, and Keeley was left in need of a solution.

Coming to the rescue, the apprentices worked closely with Keeley and Remap Southampton to design a lightweight and manoeuvrable staircase, wide enough for both a child and a carer, to get her safely onto her horse.  When it came to designing the bespoke set of steps, the team made sure to select materials that would be both strong and practical for use by the riding club, testing numerous structures before settling on the final design.  Fitting into the specifications proved tricky, especially when it came to sourcing a suitable non-slip surface for the stairs, and ensuring the finished steps were fully mobile.  The team credited the collaboration with a skilled workforce, and a healthy dose of trial and error, in selecting the most suitable design for the steps.

The efforts of the team, and the 136 hours that went into designing and creating the specialised staircase paid off, as Keeley was delighted with the end result.  “I’m so happy that the apprentices have made steps so my friends and I can continue to take part in riding lessons. I really love riding and was sad when I was told I’d have to stop doing it. Thank you to Lauren, Robert, Jason and Alex for designing and building these amazing steps, they’re so easy to use and mean my Mum won’t have to lift me anymore which has been getting really hard for her as I get older.” She said.

Speaking of her experience in designing the staircase for Keeley and the riding club, Lauren Tolliday said “The project was a good opportunity for us to learn new skills such as project planning management, teamwork and communication, and also make a positive impact on the lives of others.”

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