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Promising young engineer hand-picked for innovative offshore project

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A highly talented young engineer who first shone when he was a teenager on work experience has been chosen to join a team of experts to contribute to an innovative project in the North Sea.

Brad Parke first impressed engineering boss Mark Telford with his attitude and ability seven years ago when he arrived at solutions business Forth as a 15-year-old schoolboy on work experience.

“I could see the potential in Brad straight away,” said Mark. “He had that spark. I remember he was asked to look at a piece of equipment and he asked if he could get onto our computer systems as he wanted to research it so he could achieve the best results. Not everyone would do that.”

Brad was at Keswick School at the time and made a point of spending any subsequent spare time in his school holidays at Forth’s headquarters at Flimby in Cumbria.

Mark said: “Brad came back during the school holidays and then we were able to offer him a four-year apprenticeship placement in mechanical engineering in conjunction with Lakes College.”

When Brad successfully completed his apprenticeship, Forth managing director Mark had no hesitation in offering Brad a position with the company.

Now Brad is getting hand-picked for global assignments by some of the partner organisations Forth works with.

Mark said: “All the credit goes to Brad. He has earned it. He is the one who has put all the effort in. He has rolled his sleeves up and put himself out there and now he is reaping the rewards.

“He is getting hand-picked for jobs with some of the companies and organisations we work with. It’s a message to any young person that great opportunities are available if you’re prepared to work for them.

“We are proud of the investment we make at Forth in training and in developing people’s skills. We now have a dedicated training co-ordinator and are expanding our training programmes in 2022 so we can provide even more opportunities.”

Forth mechanical engineer Brad, now 22, was asked last year by EM&I, a global organisation specialising in innovative inspection, repair and maintenance services in the oil, gas and energy industries, to carry out work in Brazil.

The young engineer travelled to South America for 90 days early in 2020 to demonstrate to customers how to maintain the ODIN Cofferdam Launch System (‘Winch box’) product after he helped research and manufacture the devices used to position external cofferdams to allow repair on the ship’s hull.

Brad said: “I saw the product through from working on the first version, and then the different changes, right up to helping manufacture it so they wanted me to go out and make sure the customer was using it correctly and safely.

“Apart from the trip being at the height of the first Covid-19 lockdown meaning we couldn’t get out much, it was such a great experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Now EM&I have chosen Brad for a six-day offshore assignment in the North Sea this month to assist a team tasked with remote inspection of a Cargo Oil Tank on a Floating Production Storage and Offloading facility for completing the structural class inspections.

Graham Cross, the Director of Operations at EM&I, said: “Brad went out to Brazil with us as he played an integral part in designing the Winchbox so it made sense for him to go out to maintain it.

“All those he worked with were full of praise for him and said he was a quick learner, supported the team well and was a really good fitter, as well as a very hard worker.

“When we needed somebody to assist with the remote camera inspection in the North Sea we requested Brad because of his dedication and willingness to learn new things – and we will continue to work with him.”

Ahead of his North Sea trip, Brad trained at a specialist centre in Aberdeen.

Once offshore, instead of using traditional, time-consuming methods, Brad will be involved in a project where a camera will be deployed remotely into a ship’s tank and live images streamed to the engineer to allow the client to instantly identify any required repairs or maintenance.

As this type of inspection is normally done by manned entry into confined space with all the associated risks, this inspection method reduces the risks significantly as no confined space entry is required, it speeds up the inspection process, and will save the industry significant amounts of money as the inspection can be performed quicker with reduced personnel.

Brad said: “I’m excited to be part of the project as it is the first time I’ve worked on this type of inspection, and it will give an insight into what happens in the industry and what can be done to plan maintenance better.

“During training, I was shown all the equipment and the methods we will use for the inspection and I can’t wait to get involved in such an exciting project.”

Brad is also grateful for the faith Forth showed him from the start through work experience and his apprenticeship, and continues to show him today.

He said: “To get hands-on experience and an insight into how a company like this works, while also learning new things, was the perfect opportunity for me. I’m so grateful for the support Forth continues to show me and for all the opportunities they have provided.

“The variety of what we do here appeals to me as no two days are the same, and to be involved in some of the groundbreaking projects carried out here is amazing.

“There’s no bigger thrill than when a client comes to you asking for a solution and allows you the freedom to design and overcome that problem.”

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