As we all know by now, working from home presents its own challenges, without having to balance family life and needs at the same time. Therefore, when the lockdown was announced back in March this year, the Work-Based Learning Hospitality team at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai formulated a plan aimed at keeping channels of communication open and morale high.

The weather was glorious for the first nine weeks of the lockdown period and, alongside working hard, team members capitalised on this by going for walks, runs and bike rides, aiming to maintain healthy bodies and minds. However, when things turned (slightly!) competitive, the team decided to work together instead of against each other, setting an initial weekly target of 100 miles between them. This target was smashed after just two days and, by the end of the first week, the team had amassed an impressive 280 miles between them.

By steadily increasing the target each week, the furthest distance the team achieved during their challenge was a massive 476 miles. All of this exercise in the sun not only kept team members motivated, focused, fit and healthy, but also had a positive effect on their weight!

Feeling proud of their exercising efforts, the team also launched an online 'Grŵp Llandrillo Menai Staff Bake Off' competition on Facebook, which was a huge success with staff from all disciplines and sites taking part. Entries ranged from cupcakes, biscuits and bread items to pies and sausage rolls. The team unanimously decided on the winning entry, and an amazingly baked Wholemeal Sourdough loaf by Terry Roberts scooped first prize.

The team also used their time in lockdown to collaborate on and experiment with new techniques and technologies with the aim of improving students' learning experience. They plan to implement some of their new ideas when the next academic year starts.

Throughout this extraordinary time, and in addition to working on team projects, every individual within the Work Based Learning team has been equally busy, productive and creative.

As well as going on numerous family walks and adventures with her children, Work-Based Learning Team Leader Erin Deering spent a great deal of her time baking, and was inundated with birthday cake requests from her colleagues. She made numerous cakes, all of which were delicious.

Also a 'Do it yourself' enthusiast, Erin completed many projects in the garden and house, creating an amazing playhouse; building a bench made out of old pallets, and upcycling an old cabinet.

Whilst stuck at home, assessor Anwen Jones dug out her gardening gloves and revamped parts of her spacious garden to grow a long list of different vegetables - potatoes, carrots, onions, beetroot, peas, pak choi, sprouts, cabbage, butternut squash, courgettes, sweetcorn, tomatoes, cucumbers and a variety of fresh herbs.

Anwen also utilised her passion for sewing and re-using materials by making over 100 scrub bags for NHS staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd, which were very well received and very much appreciated.

Assessor Lou Hallcertainly had her hands full, and used her spare time to keep her daughter Isla active and occupied. As well as making sure Isla carried out all her homework on time, Lou arranged a 'School sports day at home,' which included several classic events such as the 'Egg and Spoon race.' She also taught Isla how to bake, and involved her in various internal and external decorating projects, including upcycling many items. Once Isla was worn out and had gone to bed for the evening, Lou would take the opportunity to work on setting questions for the team quiz nights.

Giving some television gardening shows a run for their money, assessor Roger Gorman kept himself very busy by landscaping his back yard. He created his very own pond and barbeque, as well as planting flowers and shrubs. Roger also dabbled in a bit of street art, by painting a huge rainbow on the street where he lives in a show of support for the NHS. He managed to involve a few of the local children in the project, and his neighbours loved it.

Having known for a while that he was somewhat unhealthy, assessor Tony Fitzmaurice decided that lockdown was the time to have a bit of a lifestyle change. Tony used the lockdown period and the amazing weather to kick start his mission, completely changing his diet and working out twice a day. His determination and effort has certainly paid off, as he is now a few pounds away from losing an astonishing five stone.

He also found time to organise the Amlwch Town Junior Girls' Sponsored walk in aide of Ysbyty Gwynedd's charity 'Awyr Las;' he entered a scarecrow competition, and was delighted to watch his beloved Liverpool win the league.

After a few weeks in lockdown, assessor Deborah Davies decided she needed something to focus on and so acquired three hens, which she has thoroughly enjoyed looking after since. During her time at home, she also completed two short online course with Oxford University in 'The History of Landscape Gardening' and 'The Culture of the English Country House.' Deborah is also a keen runner, having competed in a number of races previously, and has made sure that she has maintained her levels of fitness, despite being unable to race currently.

Assessor Tony Fitzmaurice concluded,

Every individual member of our team has been occupied with things like house renovations, projects in their gardens, home schooling and keeping fit, alongside working from home, of course. I believe that the team has really come together over this difficult period - we've all shown that we are passionate, inventive, determined, funny, hard-working but, most of all, that we're a really strong team and are raring to go again as soon as it's safe to do so!

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