A FORMER smelter worker is on the road to recovery beyond redundancy after embarking on a new career.
Craig Thompson, of Ellington, lost his job as a production team leader at Rio Tinto Alcan after 15 years’ service with the closure of the plant earlier this year.
But thanks to support from his former employer, a local business and his family, the father-of-two is beginning a new venture in caravan maintenance.
The 40-year-old is looking back to his earlier career as a mechanic to specialise in fitting tow bars to all makes of car, van and 4x4s.
And thanks to funding of £1,500 from Rio Tinto Alcan, he has completed two training programmes in caravan maintenance and gas safety in order to carry out caravan repairs and checks.
He received advice from the internal human resources team at the Lynemouth smelter, as well as career transition specialist Lee Hecht Harrison, which was appointed by the company to help staff find new work.
In another stroke of good fortune, Mr Thompson has been offered the use of a workshop at H&L Charlton Caravan Storage Facility near Ellington, which is part of a 600-strong caravan site.
He said: “I would like to thank H&L Charlton as it has been a massive help and without it, I probably wouldn’t be in this position.
“I have taken a lot of good advice from family and friends and done my homework and I feel I am ready to make this venture work.
“I know that there is a demand for the work I do and, of course, I am very fortunate that my business is based at a caravan site, where there should be plenty of customers.
“I would like to thank Rio Tinto Alcan for the support it has provided me in recent months, and in particular to Clare Lowrie, who put in a lot of hard work arranging the two training courses.”
Of the 317 workers who left the Lynemouth plant in May, 78 per cent have been re-settled, working in the smelter’s decommissioning team, taking early retirement, re-training for new careers, setting up their own business, joining other businesses, working overseas or taking up new positions within the company.
Rio Tinto Alcan Regional Economic Development Director John McCabe said: “We’re committed to assisting all our former colleagues who require additional support and advice to either re-train for new careers or, as in the case of Craig, to become self-employed.
“We are delighted that Craig is set to realise his ambition and we wish him all the very best for the future.”