Posted on 06 October 2023

Two Leeds College of Building students have returned from an incredible experience after gaining places on an all-expenses-paid trip to northern Spain for three days.

The Roof Slating and Tiling apprentices travelled to the famous CUPA PIZARRAS quarries in Ponferrada to see first-hand where slate is excavated and manufactured for international distribution. The quarries are the largest tectonic natural slate reserves in the world.

Apprentices Andrew Addison (employed by Historic England) and Sam Edwards (from Swadlincote Roofing) were selected for their exceptional standard of work and commitment to their training over the last academic year.

The trip was made possible by the College’s longstanding partner CUPA PIZARRAS, which supports the College’s Roof Slating and Tiling department and donates roofing supplies such as its natural slate range through Burton Roofing Merchants Ltd.

Accompanied by Leeds College of Building roofing lecturer Dale Yates, the apprentices saw for themselves the production of slate on a massive scale at the world’s largest slate quarry. The students observed how stone is extracted from the ground, selected, and hand-split ready for transport to roofing markets around the world.

The pair visited the on-site showroom, toured the immense quarry site, watched demonstrations, and tried out some of the difficult techniques themselves. Dale Yates, Roofing Lecturer at Leeds College of Building, said:

“This trip was an unbelievable opportunity for our apprentices to see the impressive infrastructure needed for production and distribution of natural slate from the world’s largest quarry. Thanks to CUPA for making us all feel extremely welcome. Everyone involved had a fantastic time. Learners and staff (including myself) took away valuable knowledge, along with an experience we will never forget.

“It’s so rewarding to see apprentices benefit from inspiring experiences like this because of the College’s established partnerships. Many students never normally get opportunities like this, and they are truly life changing. It’s great to recognise and reward the hard work of roofing apprentices and show them what opportunities are available out there in a global industry.”

With more than 100 years of history, CUPA PIZARRAS is the world leader in the production and distribution of natural slate. Today, 1 in every 2 slates installed in the world comes from CUPA PIZARRAS.

Find out more about roof slating and tiling training at Leeds College of Building by registering to attend the next Open Event on Thursday, 19 October (5 – 7 pm, North Street Campus).