From drugs to decorating: Chalk Farm apprentice turns life around on pioneering training course

07:00 13 August 2014

Jack Closier turned his life around when he enrolled on a pre-apprenticeship training course

Jack Closier turned his life around when he enrolled on a pre-apprenticeship training course


Arrested twice for drug possession after leaving school aged 16, Jack Closier had given up all hopes for a successful career.

Two years on, the Chalk Farm youngster is climbing up through the ranks as an apprentice painter and decorator - all thanks to an innovative training scheme.

The 18-year-old said he has “changed for the better” since he signed up for a vocational “pre-apprenticeship” course at K&M McLoughlin Training, in Holloway, Islington, which offers youngsters a tempting alternative to college or university.

The pioneering institute opened to much fanfare in 2012, and prepares 16 to 19-year-olds so they are ready for work on a building site during a whirlwind five-week course.

Jack, who left Haverstock School in 2012, dreamed of becoming a professional footballer and played for the Under-16s team at Premiership club Tottenham Hotspurs.

But an ankle injury left him in crutches for eight months and dashed his hopes of footballing stardom.

“I just gave up at that time,” Jack told the Ham&High. “That’s when I started meeting the wrong people and doing the wrong things.

“I got nicked for drugs, for cannabis and a bit of cocaine. There was nothing better to do.”

Jack, who lives with his mum in Ferdinand Street, resolved to turn his life around when he realised that his actions were taking a toll on his mum, who was worried about her son’s safety.

On a friend’s recommendation, he signed up to the five-week course at K&M McLoughlin Training, run by Islington-based firm K&M McLoughlin Decorating, in April last year.

Just one week after completing his training, he landed an apprenticeship with firm E Poole & Co, which covers most of the capital.

“I got myself on the right path,” said Jack. “I just had enough of bumming around, and I wanted to do the right thing.

“I was stressing my mum out, and she doesn’t need that. It has definitely changed me for the better.”

Three out of four students find apprenticeships or employment after finishing the training, according to the decorating firm’s partner, City and Islington College, in Holloway.

Jack is adamant that schools should do more to highlight alternative opportunities for pupils who are unsure about taking a traditional academic route into their chosen career.

“I had no clue about apprenticeships at school – I thought it was either college or university,” he said. “They need to show more options.

“For me, it was really enjoyable because I’m a hands-on person and I don’t like to sit down at a desk.”

Last year, K&M McLoughlin Decorating won a Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award for the firm’s pre-apprenticeship vocational training scheme.

The awards are given out annually by the City of London Corporation to recognise outstanding corporate responsibility.

For more information about the courses, visit


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

A colourful man-about-town has reformed his fringe political party on the back of the Brexit result - which he said is “a step in the right direction” towards abolishing the existing system

Yesterday, 16:26

Controversial plans to build a 10-storey “big ugly block” of luxury flats in Hampstead were last night waved through by Camden Council.

Yesterday, 07:00

A row has broken out over plans to dig out a basement car park and swimmming pool next to Hampstead Heath.

Thu, 17:15

A heritage campaigner has told of his devastation after he watched raiders ransack a disused pub that he fought to preserve.

Thu, 15:45

A historic red phone box in Highgate Village could soon be a tiny office space, complete with printing, scanning, copying and wifi

Thu, 11:00

Camden parents were forced to pay a total of £20,000 in school fines in the last year, new figures have revealed.

Thu, 07:08

This year’s Hampstead Christmas Festival has been called off, the Ham&High can reveal.

Wed, 19:00

The vicar believes the flags were taken down on both occasions as part of a targeted ‘homophobic attack’ on his church’s open and inclusive values

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now