THE inventors of custom-built robots joined forces with Stokesley Rotary to send one of their young trainee staff on an awards scheme.

Labman Automation sent Aaron Thomas, who has been through the apprenticeship scheme at Labman, on the Stokesley Rotary Leadership Awards Scheme. He is now working on his degree in Mechanical Engineering, with a one-day release to attend Teesside University.

Aaron was presented with an award by John Rowley, President of Rotary, for the Most Inspirational Leader, as well as a certificate for successfully completing the many personal challenges set for him over five days at the Kingsway Adventure Centre in Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Sarah Bright, HR for Labman, believes in investing in their young trainees, initially through works experience, in order to build confidence, and Aaron was keen to volunteer.

He had to work as a member of a team, and as a leader, on difficult activities based on Rotary themes.

Rotary, who are keen to eradicate polio worldwide, send vaccines often into inaccessible areas, and the group had to build a raft and take the vaccine, in this case in the form of six eggs, across a river, which happened to be in full flood at the time.

Aaron said: "Initially, we did many team-building activities. Everyone was quite nervous at first, as we didn't know anyone, but we all seemed to grow in confidence with the new challenges.

"My group of eight instantly bonded, and we did high-rope challenges, gorge walking and the water filter challenge together, each having an opportunity to lead.

"When my time came with the raft-building, I tried to keep dry so leapt onto the raft while everyone else waded into the river, and my efforts meant the raft collapsed and everyone made sure I was wetter than everyone else in the end!"

Both Labman and Rotary invest in young people and have good working relationships both with each other and schools and colleges in the area. Labman take on apprentices each year, and there are opportunities for hands on learning as they qualify. They run afterschool clubs, Inventing and Designing weeks, and mock interviews. Rotary are keen to give young people opportunities – they paid for the course for Aaron, and Labman gave him the time and opportunity to go.

"I am so thankful to both Rotary and Labman for their support, " said Aaron. " I got to learn about the amazing things Rotary do around the world, to make people's lives better and throughout the week I developed as a leader and team member and have made good friends. Thanks for putting the time and money in for people like me to find themselves."