The outstanding work of apprentices, their employers and support organisations in the Greater Peterborough region were toasted on Tuesday night.
The inaugural Peterborough Apprenticeship Awards, organised by the Peterborough Telegraph, drew 140 guests to the Holiday Inn West, Thorpe Wood, for a glittering evening of inspiration and information.
After greeting the finalists and guests and thanking the sponsors for their support, PT editor Mark Edwards rounded of the evening by telling the finalists: “With our 60,000-plus Facebook likes, 25,000 Twitter followers and 130,000-plus page views per day, you are going to be as famous as reality stars over the next few weeks. This has been an outstanding evening, a real celebration of everything that’s great about where Peterborough business is at the moment and how apprentices are making a great contribution to that success.”
Host Melvyn Prior provided insights into the finalists by asking questions on stage once the presentations had taken place, beginning with engineering/manufacturing apprentice of the year Zoe Leeder, who works for Perkins Engines.
She said: “Everything has been amazing. There are lots of opportunities and my advice would be: say yes to all of them!”
Myles Phillips is taking a lead role in audits for Moore Stephens, something only a fully qualified audit senior would usually do and he is always in demand by clients. He won the business and law apprentice of the year title.
He said: “The great thing about the apprenticeship scheme is it gives you exposure to all areas of the business. There are real opportunities open to me to develop my career.”
Intermediate apprentice of the year Elliemay Pettit had worked in a retail pharmacy role before joining insurance giant BGL as a maintenance electrician, because she wanted a career that involved physical activity as well as maths and science. Her award was presented by Greg Hanrahan from sponsors Peterborough Regional College.
Elliemay has been heavily involved in a £6m refit of offices in Bretton and overseen the work of outside contractors during her year-long apprenticeship.
She said: “I’d like to think I am doing this for the girls! I love being an apprentice. I love BGL.”
Also grateful to BGL was Higher or degree apprentice of the year Bethany Rawlinson, who was presented with her award by Stuart Gibbons from the Cambridgeshire Apprentice Ambassador Network.
Bethany did not have a clear career path in mind, so joined its two-year rotational programme, so she could gain experience across the business to help decide. After that, she gained insurance qualifications before deciding her future was in tech and she is now a junior business analyst and mentors colleagues who join the Pathway programme.
She said: “The rotational approach works. It gives you the chance to join different teams and be a part of what they do. At BGL it is an exciting environment every day.”
Openreach, the headline sponsor, backed the regional apprentice of the year award, which was presented by Mark Rainbow to Jordan Wright, who represented Perkins Engines at the Palace of Westminster during National Apprenticeship Week.
He has consistently raised his performance, producing work of what the company called “fantastic quality,” a good example being his build of a motorised drift trike.
“The improvement I made was so it could fit into a car, so you could use it more,” he said. “Perkins is an extremely good company to work for. It has been incredible, a brilliant experience.”
Rising star award winner Chloe Bray works in the marketing team at NetSupport and was presented with her award by Jo Sainsbury of category and associate sponsor iMET.
Chloe is a great advocate of apprenticeships, so much so that she produces a regular blog for City College Peterborough and has taken on the role of an Apprenticeship Ambassador for East Anglia.
“I also do talks for schools. I want to reach out to tell people about apprenticeships and the experience they bring,” she said.
Cross Keys Homes sponsored the mentor of the year category and Monika Wiacek received the trophy from Lynda Murawski.
Monika sponsor all nine apprentices at Codem Composites, all coming from a different range of backgrounds and experiences with most joining the company aged under 18 with no experience of a working environment.
The company said: “Monika is the glue that gels the apprentices and Codem together.”
She said: “I always wanted to be a teacher. I love it when you see new skills, personality and independence come through. In this job you see progress every day.”
OAL was judged the SME employer of the year, sponsored by City College Peterborough and presented by vice principal Sean Hindle.
The company’s founder and managing director Harry Norman accepted the award and said: “We have made some amazing advances and see real inspiration come from our apprentices. They contribute new thinking and ideas. We really do get fantastic ideas from our guys.”
HM Passport Office Peterborough won the large employer of the year award, sponsored by BGL and presented by Dan Benham.
Representing the organisation, which allows trainees to work in every department as well as shadowing senior management around the Civil Service, Tony Stockley said: “The apprentices are making a massive difference to an organisation which does much more than issue passports. New people bring new ideas which we can implement into the organisation.”
Helen Cartmel, of Coca-Cola European Partners, announced Cross Keys Homes as winners of the diversity and inclusion award, saying equality and diversity was integral to the ethos for a business which delivers services in one of the most diverse cities and regions in the country.
Acceping the award, Lynda Murawski said: “We want to give people opportunities. Some of them come from a workless background. It is brilliant to provide homes for people and it is great that some of our apprentices are our own tenants, too.”
Final award of the night was for training provider/programme of the year, sponsored by New Theatre, Peterborough, and presented by the PT’s Barry Whitehead.
Winners City College Peterborough work with local employers, the local authority and commany partners to provide learner and employer focussed apprenticeship training in various sectors.
Assessor Coralie Cooke said: “We look at people’s skill sets and match it to demand to develop their career. There is a very supportive environment at City College.”