A FIFTH generation family member has started work as an apprentice at Barkers Store in Northallerton.

William Barker, aged 18, is the great great grandson of the William Barker who in 1882 started his apprenticeship aged 14 in what was Oxendale’s drapers store.

Oxendale’s became Barkers after Mr Barker bought the business in 1918.

The fifth-generation descendant of the founder was congratulated on starting his apprenticeship by Richmond (Yorks) MP Rishi Sunak during a visit to the High Street store.

Mr Sunak said: “I am a huge fan of apprenticeships to introduce young people to the world of work while still continuing their education.

“It is a fantastic that William is following in his namesake’s footsteps in taking up an apprenticeship in this great Northallerton business and continuing the family dynasty for another generation.”

William is combining his work in the store with his studies at Northumbria University and as part of his course is looking at stock control systems – a critical part of the business at Barkers.

He said: “Being an apprentice really works for me because it allows me to get to know the different departments in the business and also apply what I’m learning at university to real-life situations here.”

Guy Barker, the store’s managing director, said: “It is great to see history repeating itself in this way and something that is only possible because of the loyalty of our wonderful customers over 140 years.

“William is already making an important contribution to the business, becoming familiar with every department and doing some excellent work on stock control.”