UK uses Bletchley Park to launch search for apprentice spies

Summary:During a visit to Bletchley Park, UK foreign secretary William Hague launched a 'spy drive' to recruit staff for GCHQ and other intelligence agencies, a National Cipher Challenge for schools, and a £480,000 grant to the home of WW2 code-breaking.

The UK's foreign secretary William Hague launched a "spy drive" during a visit to Bletchley Park, the home of World War 2 code-breaking, last week. As well as broadening recruitment for the government's GCHQ communications headquarters, Hague also announced a £480,000 grant to the Bletchley Park Trust, which will enable it to start restoring derelict wartime huts and develop into a world-class heritage site.

Foreign secretary William Hague with the Enigma machine that will go on display in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign secretary William Hague with the Enigma machine that will go on display in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Photo:FCO

Hague said: "We are determined to preserve this legacy and build on it for the future. In the year in which we celebrate the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, we want to step up our efforts to find the most talented people to help sustain and secure the UK’s code-breaking and cyber expertise for the future."

BP_Hague_Bombe-crop (200 x 322)
Hague with Bombe and a former WREN.

First, Hague announced an apprentices scheme to find "70 new recruits for GCHQ and our other intelligence agencies", and said the agency would attempt to draw on "a wider pool of talent" by adopting "an open door and continuous recruitment strategy" instead of an annual intake of new graduates.

Then he announced the annual National Cipher Challenge "run by the University of Southampton and sponsored by GCHQ". This will encourage schools to get involved with cybersecurity skills "including ciphers and code-breaking", said Hague.

The Bletchley Park Trust said it was enormously grateful to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for its £480,000 contribution, which completed a £2.4m matchfunding element and thereby unlocked a £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The Trust said that "during his visit Mr Hague met WW2 Codebreaking veterans including Captain Jerry Roberts, Lord Asa Briggs, Charlotte Webb, Gwendoline Page and Baroness Trumpington and was enthralled by a demonstration of the Enigma and the Bombe machines by WW2 WRENs, Ruth Bourne and Jean Valentine."

On Twitter, Hague posted a photo with the message: "A @bletchleypark veteran shows me a bombe machine of the type she operated during WW2". He also tweeted a "Photo of the enigma machine which will go on display next to my office in the @foreignoffice".


Topics: Government : UK, Security, United Kingdom


Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first webs... Full Bio

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