gavelLiam’s face peered round the corner, looking for me; it was his first day and plenty had been going on. New people to meet, a lot to take in and all very different to his normal old habits and haunts.

Yesterday he had a faltering start – finding the thought of an official start day just too much and not making it out to LandWorks at all.

Today one of our guys had offered to meet up and travel in with him. This had worked and so I was now trying to ease him into his first day – with a bit of thought, a bit of care, and no great surprises.

“Liam explained that last time, the wig had been a good disguise”

Liam gamely introduced himself to the man I was talking to, who had been passing and just called in. Liam shook his hand, looked at him for a second time, performed a rather odd leg movement, then blurted: “F*#k…oh sorry, sh#t”.

“I take it we’ve met before”, my associate said gently.

Liam explained that last time, the wig had been a good disguise: “You gave me three years – and a proper telling off”.

Fortunately lunchtime was rapidly approaching and Liam and another were on their way to collect our daily soup and bread.

The judge, a great supporter of LandWorks, normally plans a visit and comes to engage with our trainees, many who have previously appeared before him.

He does not have to do this and I can’t imagine it is particularly easy for either side.

The lunch party arrived back in good spirits, a quicker than normal pick-up ensured an early lunch. Just one problem: the pick up had been so speedy that the soup containers were still completely empty!

Liam was by now convinced this was some sort of bizarre first day initiation. The judge, understanding that Liam (having just carried the non-lunch to us) was not keen to return to the kitchens at Schumacher, offered: “I could give you a lift?”

This was quickly accepted and the two headed off chatting away to each other.

As Liam (slightly shell shocked) later pointed out to me, this sort of thing just doesn’t happen in his life. I agreed – I don’t think it happens very often at all. One of the great strengths of this project is bringing people together who may not normally meet.

Liam was back the next day and I am sure you will be pleased to know I have sent a memo to self to ‘review first day planning’. Normally everything is carefully thought out… no great surprises.