BIG Pit has welcomed its first two apprentices into the fold as part of the mining museum’s plans to create a new generation of underground guides.

At the start of the year, the National Museums Wales centre in Blaenavon announced it was on the lookout for new recruits to its apprenticeship scheme.

The museum received 52 applications for the roles, with Ben Munro and David Powell selected following the recruitment process.

“The first month has gone really well and the time has absolutely flown by,” said Mr Munro, 25.

“It is all about taking every opportunity to learn as much as possible and we have had a lot of opportunities to get hands-on and get stuck in with it.

“It feels like the start of bigger things to come.”

The pair will be first in a succession of apprentices starting at the Blaenavon museum, after National Museum Wales confirmed that funding for future new recruits has been agreed in preparation for the time when the current guides retire.

A Big Pit spokeswoman said: “We will be taking two more apprentices on in September and hopefully then, two every year after that.

“We have received funding to take two more on and two after that so hopefully it will continue.”

Mr Powell, 32, added: “It has been an eye-opening start and there’s lots of different aspects to this kind of work that, as someone new coming in, we would not know.

“It isn’t easy to find out all the information.

“But with the amount of personal experience the former miners have and what they’ve been sharing with us, from the guiding to the mining craft, they have passed on their knowledge - what they used to do and how to do it.

“It is all about being a sponge and taking it all in.”

The two apprentices will complete vocational training, while gaining hands-on experience of working alongside members of the maintenance team.

The pair will also become part-time members of the local mines rescue team and following an initial training period of six months, the mining craft apprentices will become underground guides.

Huw Jones, the mine manager at Big Pit, said: “The apprenticeships are an important part of the succession plan at Big Pit and will help to ensure that the public can continue to enjoy the underground experience at the Museum and learn about the history of the mining industry in Wales.”