AN apprentice from Accrington has been hailed after helping to create an innovative product for disabled athletes.

Former St Christopher’s CE High School student Graham Slinger was part of a BAE team tasked with improving the safety and usability of hand-bikes by military charity Help For Heroes.

The 21-year-old said: “Being an apprentice is all about taking on new challenges and learning from them and that is exactly what we did as part of this challenge.

“I was part of a team which drew on the different strengths of each apprentice and pulled together to help come up with these inventions which we hope will make life easier and safer for hand-bike users.”

The seven-strong team, made up of apprentices from across the county, engineered a new braking system that stops the cables from twisting and breaking.

Graham and the others were rewarded for their efforts by being crowned winners of the aerospace giant’s Apprentice Innovation Challenge.

After establishing the most frequent hand-bike complaints, using Facebook, team used 3D printing technology to create an anti-twist Gyro mechanism, which houses and protects the cables.

Tests showed the cables were still working after 500 miles, whereas conventional cables were known to break after around 90 miles.

Graham said: “We have already started working with a local hand-bike user to put what we have created and tested into practice and we are hoping we can get our products to the British Cycling hand-cycle team to try out.”

BAE group managing director Nigel Whitehead, added: “Having started my own working life as an apprentice, it’s not just important to me that our apprenticeship scheme works really well, but that it is seen as a benchmark for other apprenticeship schemes in the UK.

“The Apprentice Innovation Challenge showcases the best of our young talent, and with certain inventions going on into further testing, it’s clear that this is a serious event with serious outcomes.”

The team now hope to use BAE Systems’ partnership with UK Sport to test the product at the velodrome in Manchester.