IT may have called last orders this time last year, but work to give a new lease of life to The George is back on track thanks to a group of young people.

Painting, decorating, cleaning and renovating are just some of the tasks volunteers have taken on at the former pub, in Eastcott Hill, which is set to open as an education centre in September.

It was thought the opening could be delayed because of the state of the building when they started work in January. But hard work last week from a group of young people from the Prince’s Trust, run by InnerFlame, has helped to get work back on track.

Jo Dunningham, who runs Wizard Education with her husband, Greg, said: “Due to a lot of damage to the building, where it was unceremoniously stripped of anything of value, including water and gas pipes, electrical wires and lead from the roof, we were left with a huge dent in our budget and delays in our anticipated schedule for renovation.

“We have been racing against time as we hope to be able to open the school in September. We were really struggling to keep on target.

“Last week, however, we were totally overcome by the amazing efforts of a group of unemployed young people from the Prince’s Trust, who decided, as part of their programme, to offer us some help.

“They have been truly fantastic and put a huge effort into helping us gain lost time, some coming back even after the main group had finished. The transformation is unbelievable – they have painted, decorated, cleaned and renovated, barely stopping for breaks and remaining cheerful throughout.”

The George is being converted into an independent school for children with learning difficulties combined with a community resource which provides work experience opportunities for students and volunteers. It will have a community cafe as well as workshops and fundraising events to make it self-sustainable.

“They wanted to help support other kids and disadvantaged groups in our community and liked what we were trying to do,” said Jo.

“The groups of volunteers from Network Rail and Intel, who joined the youngsters last week through Involve Swindon, have been equally supportive and were not even fazed by the unglamorous jobs they were faced with, like scrubbing a dilapidated kitchen and painting the gents’ loo.

“We want to say a big thank you to everyone who came along last week and helped us to get back on schedule.”

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