1498 days ago
Dave Huntley, horticultural instructor, HMP Northumberland
Joined Sodexo: Dec 2013 – following privatisation of the prison.
Lives in: Morpeth, Northumberland.
Q. What was your first job?
A. I started on our family farm when I was 16, but I’d actually been working there since I was a young child helping out.
Q. Tell us a bit about your Sodexo role.
A. I’m an instructor in the market garden department of HMP Northumberland. We’re responsible for the safety and supervision of 23 prisoners who work towards fulfilling various horticultural contracts to external customers.
Q. What kind of things do you do with the prisoners every day?
A. Work alongside them in our two greenhouses and six large poly tunnels. We’re involved in a full range of flower and crop production as well as many small and large projects such as drainage or laying paths.
Q. What do you find rewarding about it?
A. To see prisoners learning and enjoying their work. Most will say that during work hours they forget they are locked up.
Q. Why is this kind of work with prisoners so vital?
A. No matter how long a prisoner is with us we find that he can achieve something. From a basic knowledge of how to grow things, through to a good qualification which will enhance job prospects.
Q. When is the busiest part of the year?
A. Well, we begin sowing seeds as early as January in the greenhouse, but cropping time is the busiest, usually from June until October.
Q. Any recent successes?
A. We’ve just achieved Red Tractor accreditation, which means we can supply our produce to the commercial market. Much like the rest of the establishment we’re dedicated to stopping prisoners reoffending; giving them the skills that will help them move on with their lives after they are released.
Q. What skills do you need to work in this area?
A. A passion for what you do, the rest will come from experience.
Q. If you could work/live in any country in the world, where would you choose?
A. I’ve worked outdoors in cold Northumberland all my life, so somewhere in the Caribbean would be nice.
Q. Tell us one thing about yourself that people would be surprised to learn.
A. I paint model soldiers; didn’t use to tell people that, but at my age who cares!
Q. Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
A. Muhammed Ali. He fought inside and outside the ring all his life and is still fighting his health issues.
Q. What would be your perfect day off?
A. Reading a good book in the sun.
Q. What did you want to be as a child?
A. A Spitfire pilot. I’m not that old but I watched all the films when I was a kid.
Q. Name your fantasy celebrity dinner guest.
A. Kenneth Williams, the Carry On legend.
Q. Favourite quote/motto?
A. ‘Do unto others what you would have them do unto yourself.’
You can read more 'Five minutes with' stories here.
Share this story About sharing