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01st Mar 2022

Behind the Hoardings - Project 22 Blogging Team (background)

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Ben Small started year 7 at the Abbey in September 2006 and says of his time there, “I had five great years at the Abbey, learning lots of different skills, some of them academic and some of them social”. Ben left the Abbey in July 2011 and went on to Alton College where he continued with Functional Skills in Maths, English and IT. He also studied photography as part of a Skills for Life course. Ben then spent two years at Farnborough College of Technology, first studying a L1 course in Creative Media Production and then a L1 course in Business with IT. 

Ben was then awarded some time each week from Surrey County Council to employ a Life Skills Buddy. This coincided with Chris Lewis unfortunately having to medically retire from teaching and the two were reunited, Ben having been previously in Chris’s tutor group! Chris has been involved with the Abbey for the last 16 years and since retiring in 2016 he has been a Governor.  

Ben and Chris were approached by Andover College in 2016 to produce a blog to record the building of their new Skills Workshop. The construction company Amiri were so impressed that they sub contracted the newly named ‘Amiri Blogging Team’ to work with them on a permanent basis. The duo now blog for Amiri Construction all over the south of England and current projects include the new European Space Agency Conference Centre in Didcot, and a sports hall at the prestigious Sherborne School in Dorset. Ben really enjoys this work and commented, “We get to meet lots of new people and see lots of new places, but most importantly we are both still learning new skills”.

Ben and Chris also work commercially for local companies and organisations like Disability Arts in Surrey and Farnham Town Council. They have had photographs included in local calendars like the Hedgehogs ‘Love Farnham’ one and have also featured on the BBC photography website. Last year they were shortlisted in a National Wildlife Trust competition for a film they made about the wildlife pond they built in Ben’s garden.

When Project 2022 first got off the ground Chris spoke to Head teacher David Jackson about the possibility of blogging the build for the school. Chris notes, “As we are employed in the construction industry to blog projects it felt like a natural fit for us. It’s also an opportunity to give something back to the school who have given both Ben and myself so much over the years. Hopefully the blog will provide a vehicle for all stake holders to stay up to date with progress on the build, and also get a glimpse of life behind the hoardings!” Ben and Chris would like to thank Project 22’s building contractors O and D Construction for their ongoing help and support during the course of the blog.