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Auto22 garage offering apprenticeships to unemployed youngsters closes branches in Gravesend and Paddock Wood

By Alan Smith

A garage business that offered unemployed youngsters the chance to train for a career in mechanics has closed.

Auto22 was set up by the national charity Catch22, specifically with the aim of offering apprenticeships to the disadvantaged.

It opened a branch in Gravesend in 2010, and another in Paddock Wood in 2012.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visits Auto22 Skills Centre and garage

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visits Auto22 Skills Centre and garage

The concept received widespread acclaim and the garages, in Hop Pocket Road, Paddock Wood and Lions Business Park, Dering Way, Gravesend, even received a visit from Princess Anne, who chatted to the apprentices and heard how the training offer had helped turn their lives around.

Sadly the business has not proved sustainable.

Both branches have now closed.

Apprentice Alex Ferguson with HRH The Princess Royal

Apprentice Alex Ferguson with HRH The Princess Royal

A spokesman for Auto22 said: “We are so proud of all it has achieved.

“We’ve had a brilliant success rate, with the vast majority of our trainees going on to successful careers.

“This is something that we would never have been able to have achieved without the support of our customers.

Shaun Truckell works with two apprentices

Shaun Truckell works with two apprentices

“However, it’s a tough market out there, and put simply – we weren’t able to make enough money to keep the garages open.”

Catch 22 said that a very competitive local market and changes to the motor industry as a whole meant it was no longer able to make the garages work.

Any former customers of Auto22 who have queries about past repairs can still contact the business manager Mark Townsend on 07879 644665 until January 24.

After that, email feedback@catch-22.org.uk.

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