Hands-on experience as Moray pupils build benches with Chivas Brothers

June 14, 2019

Pupils from a Moray secondary school have made picnic benches from scrap wood in a collaboration with a local distillery.


The Buckie High School students were tasked by Chivas Brothers to design and then make two picnic benches from wooden rails.


The completed benches are now situated in the memorial garden at the High School and the other at Chivas Brothers’ Longmorn Distillery outside the staff canteen.


Speaking about the project which was facilitated by Developing the Young Workforce Moray Ross Keddie, operations manager north for Chivas Brothers said he was thrilled with the outcome: “We had large amounts of wooden rails in good condition that were of no purpose to the company. We have a traditional dunnage warehouse and use a historical maturation process which as a business we are trying to move away from as there are better industry practices now. We emptied the warehouse and as a result had this quantity of redundant timber. Rather than just scrap it, we decided it would be good to recycle it somehow and came up with the bench idea. There was a two-fold benefit to this, it meant we were recycling the timber, but it also gave us an opportunity to engage with a local school.”


He added: “The pupils were tasked with working in groups and had to come up with designs of picnic benches and then make two, the pupils could choose where to place one of them and the other one is now situated at Longmorn Distillery for use by our staff.


“We initially pitched the idea to the technical teacher, Vickie Glennie at Buckie High School and this part of the project was led by Kate Garrow, a Career Ready student working with me at the distillery. She was responsible for presenting the idea to the teacher and once accepted then created a project brief for the pupils.”


Speaking about the end result Ross added: “The project has been a huge success. I had received picture updates from Vickie, but when I saw the benches for the first time, I was astounded at the quality of the workmanship. From the design to the fabrication, the pupils have produced a professional piece of outdoor furniture which is of a standard that could easily have been purchased from a retail outlet. The technicians and the warehouse operatives at Longmorn Distillery are also thrilled as it now means they have a great al fresco seating area to enjoy their lunch.”

Vickie Glennie, principle teacher technical at Buckie High School said there were 11 pupils who got involved.


“The project was carried out by youngsters in the S4, S5 and S6 classes. At first, I think they were a little taken aback with the task, but once we discussed a few ideas, they were all really keen. We were given some guidance from Chivas but ultimately it was up to the pupils to come up with the final design. What was great is that it was really hands on and they have a real, finished product that will be used by people out with our school network. That has made the pupils really proud.”


Sarah Baxter, manager of DYW Moray said the collaboration between Chivas Brothers and Buckie High School is exactly the type of project the organisation can help get off the ground.


“Here we had a local distillery wanting to do something practical with a waste product and engage with a local school and a technical department at a local school with enthusiastic pupils wanting get stuck into a real project that has meaning and benefits not only themselves but the wider community too. We were able to match these two organisations together with a great result all round.”

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e: sarah.baxter.moray@uhi.ac.uk

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