AN APPRENTICE from the Wee County has certainly spread his wings over the past four years – and not just because he grew feathers last week.

Alloa man Liam Conlan endured the traditional ceremony at Tullibody's Speyside Cooperage as he became a fully-fledged professional in the trade.

Family and colleagues gathered for what is known as the 'trussing of the cooper' initiation, which started with a bagpipe fanfare at the workshop.

The 23-year-old then jumped inside what was the last barrel he fixed as an apprentice.

After that, he was covered in an eye-watering mix of dirty water, tar, and other mysterious rancid liquids, before being spun around.

Last, but not least, was the crowning glory: a comprehensive feathering to round it all off.

In the end, he emerged from the barrel as a proper cooper – a moment he has been looking forward to for four years.

Ahead of his trussing, Liam told the Advertiser: "I'm a bit more nervous than I should be.

"It's all part and parcel of the trade; everybody gets it, why should I be different?"

While it all sounds quite nasty on paper, it was done in good humour by colleagues who endured the very same when it was their time.

Indeed, it is a right of passage at the local cooperage, based at Dumyat Business Park.

And, as is tradition, the ceremony was followed by a high-power jet wash, a deep scrub in the shower and nibbles with everyone who came along.

Afterwards, Liam mused: "It was amazing and horrible at the same time. There's not really any word to describe that."

He started at the workshop as a labourer aged 17 and bosses soon realised his potential, putting him on the apprenticeship programme.

Now, at the end of his training, he said he would "100 per cent" recommend getting into the trade – "if you are a hard worker".

Foreman Andy Cook had been keeping an eye on Liam talent since he first came through the gates.

Andy said: "He's matured very well into a working man's environment.

"He is a very good cooper; a very conscientious worker, and I look forward to working with him in the future.

"We had an idea that he had the right credentials to become an apprentice because it's not for everybody.

"He came in as a labourer; we offered him an apprenticeship, and he's done really well."