The manager of a training centre said it has "turned a corner" after being officially approved as a apprenticeship provider.

Appleby Training and Heritage Centre delivers an array of courses for teenagers to adults, many of them from converted train carriages beside a railway platform at the town's station.

In September the centre announced it had been officially approved as an apprenticeship training provider by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The news came as a relief for its trustees and new manager Mandy Morland after its future had looked in doubt earlier in the year.

A combination of reduced funding for secondary schools, which discouraged them from them sending pupils for courses, as well as the withdrawal of a sub-contracted training arrangement with Carlisle College, presented a serious threat.

Mandy said the centre has now turned a corner and is looking forward to the future.

So far it has registered to be a trainer in four sectors – engineering, motor vehicle, supporting teaching and learning and business administration.

It is currently offering qualifications up to level three, which is an A-level equivalent.

“We are looking at expanding that as the years go on, but we are keeping it contained at the moment,” said Mandy.

“We need to do a big marketing campaign to businesses directly to make sure they realise that we can offer on the doorstep training."

It currently has over 100 people on its roll across all courses, from 14-year-olds to adults, with the number of adult courses increasing.

There are currently only a small number of apprentices.

However, Mandy believes the numbers of apprentices will grow in future years as it promotes itself to local schools and businesses.

Alongside apprentice training, the centre also offers courses which are either self-funded or financed through Cumbria County Council.

It is also a registered exam centre with a significant increase this year for on-demand exams.

Before beginning work at the centre in May, Mandy, who lives in Appleby, previously worked at Queen Katherine School, in Kendal, where she was responsible for careers and work-related learning.

“I heard the stories from people about how fabulous this place was and how we needed to keep it,” she said.

“Even more now, I realise that the need and the demand for provision here is huge.”

She said for many people living in the Appleby area travelling by public transport to either Carlisle or Kendal to study is too much of a barrier in terms of time or cost.

The centre recently formed a supportive link with Kendal College which is looking to develop working practices to benefit both learners and staff.

"The centre will benefit greatly from the support of Kendal College and the two organisations are establishing joint areas of good practice sharing," said Mandy.

“Another of our developments we are looking at is how we can set up to be a main provider for further education provision.

“We’re not a standalone college as we stand so we have previously had to sub-contract from sixth forms.

"We want to look at the option to be a main provider offering vocational skills.

“We have had that conversation with the Education and Skills Funding Agency and what they have said is that we have to look at where the gap is in provision and what we can offer that nobody else can.

“There is a lack in Cumbria of vocational provision for young people with special educational needs.

"Because we have the nurturing small classroom size here we can accommodate people with special educational needs.

"That is something else that we are looking at for next September.”

The centre also offers twilight courses in engineering for 16 students.

“It’s run over two nights so 14-year-olds can come and work towards an engineering level one qualification,” said Mandy.

“When we put the word out, the places were filled in 24 hours, so it just goes to show they want to do it.”

Mandy said it is applying for funding to run more twilight courses in art, childcare and hair and beauty.

“If we’re successful with funding applications then we would like to run that from January,” she said.

“We are always looking at what else we can do. It did go through a difficult patch and now we’ve turned a corner and its onwards and upwards.

“If young people are keen we’ve got to do something, you can’t let them slip through the net.

“While they are young that is the time to catch them.”