Calum Melrose - Modern Apprentice in Horticulture

"Calum Melrose, aged 22 from Livingston, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Horticulture with West Lothian Council through SRUC.

“When I was 13, I was playing with my friends beside the local bowling green. Our football ended up over the wall, so I was nominated to go and retrieve it. When I got inside, I was greeted by one of the club members who asked if I wanted to try to try the game out.  That’s when my interest in outdoor bowling began and it’s carried on throughout my life, to the extent that I’ve won lots of awards throughout my bowling career and am also a team skip. 

In fact, it was my love of outdoor bowling that made me become interested in green keeping, because playing throughout the country made me realise that the condition of greens can have a massive impact on the success or failure of the game. 

Then when I saw that West Lothian Council was recruiting four Horticulture Modern Apprentices, I knew that I needed to secure one of the posts and couldn’t let the opportunity pass. 

Even though I already had a full-time job, I knew this apprenticeship was ideal for me, so decided to change career and gain a deeper understanding on a subject that I was already passionate about.

My main duties as an apprentice include the maintenance of the country park and golf course, where I undertake various tasks and each day face new challenges.  Some of these daily tasks include raking bunkers on the golf course, cutting the greens, fairways and tees using various types of machinery, marking football and rugby pitches; maintaining artificial surfaces and maintaining bowling greens too. In addition to this, I have also been tasked with the planting and upkeep of the flower beds at the war memorials throughout West Lothian. I’ve recently taken on a mentoring role for our new first year apprentices which I am enjoying immensely.

In the summer holidays I was tasked with taking on a team leader role for two weeks.  I was just finishing the first year of my three-year apprenticeship so it was a massive undertaking and, as I later found out, had never happened before for an apprentice.  The role included giving out daily tasks to team members and making sure everything was done to a high standard.  I am now confident in my ability to do this again, should the opportunity arise.  

The main thing I find rewarding is seeing a job through from start to full completion and delivering it to a high standard.  It gives me a great sense of personal satisfaction to know that ground that may have been unattractive to look at or impractical to use has been transformed into something beautiful or at the very least useable. 

Another aspect that I find satisfying is learning new skills and techniques and generally becoming more knowledgeable in the field of horticulture. I have come to realise the importance of working within an industry that you are passionate about.

After completing my apprenticeship I hope to secure a full-time post within West Lothian Council.  I would then ideally like to further develop my knowledge of green-keeping and become comfortable with challenging situations and to know how best to tackle them. I have already started maintenance on the bowling green at my local bowling club and hope that with experience I can make the playing conditions as good as possible.”