S Nicholson & Sons have taken on two new apprentices and a full time painter and decorator to support the family-run firm with its growing order book.

It has also invested £80,000 to update and expand its fleet with two new pick-up trucks, bringing the total number of vehicles to 11.

The business, based in Bishop Auckland, which specialises in the restoration of heritage and listed buildings, is enjoying a busy year with householders and businesses continuing to invest in maintaining and improving their properties.

Recent high-profile projects include Brown’s Brasserie & Bar in Manchester, the Rainton Arena events venue at Houghton-le-Sporing, the High Force Hotel in County Durham, Baltic Apprenticeships’ new building in Darlington, and Redworth Hall Hotel, near Newton Aycliffe.

The team is currently preparing to start a major project redecorating a major listed building situated in the Yorkshire Dales.

The business, which provides a variety of painting and decorating services from plastering to wallpaper hanging, together with interior and exterior decorating, views apprenticeships as a key part of its success.

Managing director Stephen Nicholson said: “We employ time-served tradesmen and as a result we’re focused on bringing young people into the trade to ensure those traditional skills and knowledge is handed down to the next generation.

“We are attracting good quality candidates, but I think it’s the case that many young people don’t consider painting and decorating as a job, never mind a life-long rewarding career. Instead, they seem to be drawn to other work which might pay a few extra pounds but doesn’t always offer the same security or opportunities.

“Being an apprentice here means no day is ever the same and they could easily find themselves working in a terraced house, industrial building, or even a stately home.”

The three new apprentices, recruited through New College, Durham, are Ashley Johnson, from West Auckland, and Sean Longworth, from Shildon.

In addition, qualified painter and decorator James Dooley has also joined after moving to the area with his family from Dorset.

Ashley Johnson said: “I’m really enjoying being an apprentice and am already picking up lots of new skills and it’s good to know you’re part of a trade that’s in demand. It might not be seen by some people as glamorous, but it’s an interesting job that offers many career options.”