APPRENTICE stonemason Bev Vickers is carving out a career in a male-dominated trade working on a restoration project at Durham Cathedral.

Miss Vickers and colleague Gary Winter are learning their craft by working on a refurbishment of the Chapel of Nine Altars, which began 30 years ago.

The pair are employed by Durham University, which hopes to establish a stonemasonry department with the help of the Cathedral.

Miss Vickers, from Bishop Auckland, and Mr Winter, from Leadgate, both 19, will also carry out internal stonework to allow the laying of new cables and wiring and attend York College one day a week.

Their apprenticeships are funded by the Learning and Skills Council County Durham and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Miss Vickers, a former pupil of St John's RC School, in Bishop Auckland, said: "This isn't a career I had really considered. It was only when I saw an advert in a newspaper that I decided to look into it.

"The work is quite different to what I expected and, working at the cathedral, there is a wide variety in the type of work I am involved with, but it is interesting and I am enjoying it."

Bob Matthews, clerk of works at Durham Cathedral, said: "It is somewhat unusual for a young woman to take up a trade such as stonemasonry, but Beverley proves it is by no means a closed shop. Her willingness to step into a male-dominated trade speaks volumes for her."