MORE than 60 years separate engineers Tony Temple and Joe Voller.

But the two scientists found they had plenty to talk about when they met at Culham Science Centre, at an event hosted by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

About 50 engineering apprentices gathered at the science centre, with former Harwell apprentices from the 1940s to the 1990s meeting young engineers now based at the Culham site.

The apprenticeship scheme ran at the Harwell nuclear research site between 1948 and 1994 and trained engineers including Formula 1 team boss Ross Brawn.

The apprenticeship scheme was re-established at Culham in 2005 and Mr Voller, 19, from East Hanney near Wantage, is now in the third year of an engineering apprenticeship.

The former pupil at St Birinus School, Didcot, said he enjoyed chatting with Mr Temple, 80, who joined an engineering apprentice training scheme at Harwell in 1948.

Mr Voller said: “I didn’t realise the scheme dated back to 1948 and it was really interesting to talk to Tony about his experiences.

“The apprenticeship looked after Tony really well and it is doing the same for me, it’s brilliant.”

Father-of-two Mr Temple, who lives with wife Bernie in Kennington, said his apprenticeship prepared him for a long and varied career.

He said: “I completed a five-year apprenticeship in instrumentation and then went on to be an engineer at the Medical Research Council, before joining Littlemore Scientific Engineering Company.

“I then finished my career as a building services manager for Oxford University’s biochemistry department.

“I enjoyed meeting the young apprentices including Mr Voller – they are an extremely bright bunch.”

The ex-apprentices were given a guided tour of the Jet project, the world’s largest fusion experiment.

Mr Temple added: “It was interesting to see the modern technology now being used and how things have changed compared to 60 years ago.”

Richard Smith, a graduate of the 1962 intake, said: “A Harwell apprenticeship has given a good start to many a working life, and a large number of apprentices have risen to importance in different fields.

“Apprenticeships are more important than ever today. Thankfully they are back in vogue as the Government and employers realise the need for engineering skills to help get the economy moving.”

The event will now be used as a starting point for revitalising the Harwell Apprentice Association, in a bid to connect up to 1,400 former apprentices.

  • For more information about the Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, visit culham