Karl Brown, a former East Durham College Houghall student, is now living his dream of working with animals as Stocksman at Beamish Museum in Country Durham.
Karl, 23, from Pelton close to Beamish, is passionate about animal care and farming and after some research into how he could pursue this passion as a career, he chose East Durham College to study animal care.
“Originally, I wanted to work in a pet shop in Stanley, where I used to work part time, but sadly it closed down. So I decided to go to college and get some qualifications.
“I chose the animal care course because I’ve always loved working with small animals; after starting on the course at East Durham College, I realised that I actually enjoyed the farming and livestock side of things even more,” Karl explained.
The course Karl studied at Houghall, in Durham, ran in 2010/11 for one year, earning Karl a Level 2 qualification after its successful completion. He then used this qualification to gain employment as an apprentice at Beamish, which was also organised by the college.
Karl said: “I worked as an agriculture apprentice at Beamish for 18 months.
“Once I’d finished that I got offered a full time job with them which I took and started working as a farmhand at the museum.
“Eventually another employee at Beamish moved on and I was delighted to be offered the chance to step up to where I am now, looking after the animals here as a Stocksman.”
Karl is extremely hands-on with the animals in his new role at Beamish, where he is responsible for taking care of many different types of animals ranging from chickens to pigs and cows. He finds the work extremely rewarding, and added: “I love that every day is different. You can’t plan a day - everything just seems to change as it goes on. My favourite time at work is the lambing and calving season - it’s great to help when they’re born, helping them when they’re ill and just watching them grow.”
And it’s certainly a busy working environment for Karl at Beamish’s farm - an authentic replica of a 1940s home farm. The farm provides the thousands of people who visit Beamish every year an authentic representation of how times have changed and lets visitors get up and close with the animals as well.
Karl’s main role is the care and wellbeing of the animals around Beamish Farm, as well as completing other farming duties as required, such as driving a tractor or picking potatoes. When we spoke to him, he was dusting off his dancing shoes too, to take part in Beamish’s Dig for Victory event (although he may have to be dragged up to dance – he didn’t seem that keen!).
Karl clearly is very passionate about his job at Beamish, a role which he says is unlike any other.
When asked about his time at East Durham College, Karl was full of praise for the college and its lecturers at Houghall. He said: “I would highly recommend the college, I really enjoyed my time there. Just stick in, and you never know where you’ll end up.