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“I grew up looking out on the turbines from my island home... now the ocean is my office!” – National Apprenticeship Week: Amy’s Story

Amy Lovidge has been looking out to the blustery Irish Sea for years. Growing up on Cumbria’s Walney Island, she charted the appearance and growth of Orsted’s offshore wind farm on the horizon.

She’d never dreamt she’d one day be scaling the heights of the towering turbines and swapping an office for the ocean.

An apprenticeship with Orsted was her route in. But a life out at sea wasn’t exactly what Amy had planned. “I just never thought I’d be doing this. I originally wanted to be a teacher, I started out as a Teaching Assistant and was considering going on to university to qualify as a primary teacher, but then this opportunity came up. It was something so new and unexpected, I just decided to go for it."

Orsted’s Barrow project covers around 10km 2 and produces some 90MW of renewable energy - enough to power around 80,000 homes each year. The site’s been generating energy since 2006, when Amy was just a youngster.

Amy joined Orsted as an offshore wind turbine technician. But before the 20-year-old could master how to fit mechanical components and service the turbines, she had to learn how to safely access them.

She said: “Depending on the conditions, it can take around two hours to get out to the turbines and two hours back. The first time I went out it was just crazy, but the skippers and the team were fantastic with me. You’re all harnessed up and you’ve got to safely climb up the first part of the turbine after you’ve left the boat, and then get the lift to the top which can take around four minutes.

“It’s just spectacular when you’re up there. Sometimes, due to the weather, you can’t even see the shoreline and it feels so remote and isolated. It’s hard to describe the feeling when you’re up there, it’s just brilliant.”

Amy is building up her skillset as part of the team that monitor and service the essential energy infrastructure. She’s looking forward to spotting wildlife whilst zipping between the turbines. So far, she’s only seen dozens of jellyfish, but she’s living for the moment she spots playful seals or a pod of whales her colleagues have been lucky enough to glimpse.

Her passion for the natural world is what fuels her new-found enthusiasm for the company and her apprenticeship role. She’s always been passionate about the environment and sustainability, exploring the rural countryside in her spare time and being an advocate for renewable energy.

Amy said: “It feels really rewarding working on a renewable energy project that is part of the change we need to see in the UK. My parents are really proud, they think it’s so good what I’m doing.”

The apprenticeship has enabled Amy to be part of a clean energy revolution in Cumbria, which has created supply chain and job opportunities.

Cumbria already powers ahead when it comes to clean energy. In 2020, Cumbria accounted for 4.3% of installed UK capacity and 5.6% of all UK electricity generation – well ahead of its share of the UK population (0.7%) and land mass (2.8%).

Amy is excited about what the future holds, she adds: “The Orsted team have been so brilliant and patient with me, starting to learn working with tools and getting up to speed with how things are done. It’s given me a chance to earn money, stay closer to home and start a really exciting career that took me out of my comfort zone.”

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