Thursday 10th October 2024
Showground, Wadebridge

The apprentices of the year!

Completing professional qualifications, helping your employer to maximise profits and ensuring the customer is at the heart of everything you do sounds like the work of a top-level business executive.

But in fact, it is all in a day’s work for the first-ever Cornwall Apprentice of the Year, Kate Cooke, who proudly accepted the honour at a glittering ceremony on Friday night. Kate, from Falmouth, took the overall winner of winners award in what was an evening filled with some great personal achievements from apprentices working in Cornwall.

Kate, an Accountancy Apprentice with Lang Bennetts, was also awarded the Accountancy prize and was one of twelve category winners to have come from Truro and Penwith College. As well as passing all her exams first time, Kate took an additional module in business tax, which was over and above what was required for her to pass her course, but what she felt she needed in order to progress her career at Lang Bennetts.

Kate was offered a place at university, but chose to pursue the Apprenticeship route to gain valuable work experience. As Lang Bennetts’ first apprentice, Kate excelled in her studies, moving from an Advanced Apprenticeship onto a Higher Apprenticeship (equivalent to a foundation degree) at Truro and Penwith College which she is due to finish this year. She is then keen to train as a Chartered accountant. Kate now mentors Lang Bennetts’ two other apprentices.

“She has shown a lot of guts, as well as commitment to her own progression,” said Helen Hood, Manager and Apprentice Co-ordinator at Lang Bennetts. “We have seen a shy person who knew little about the business community, grow and mature over the last two years, into someone who is confident, diligent and commercially aware. Since Kate has been part of the team we have seen turnover growth of more than 10% per year, each year. Kate has been part of that success, and is helping to put Lang Bennetts in a position to succeed for the next 75 years.”

After winning the Apprentice of the year award a delighted Kate said: “I was really shocked to hear my name read out, especially for the overall award, but it was great. It was a really good night, the food especially from the Rick Stein’s Academy.

“It shows I’m doing something right; I couldn’t have done it without Lang Bennetts’ support and also Georgie Holbrook, my training adviser at Truro College.”

She added: “Winning the award definitely proves that an apprenticeship was the right move for me and now I’m ready to start training for the Chartered ACA qualification.”

Ilham Dani from Newquay, Professional Cookery Apprentice at The Seafood Restaurant, was awarded Apprentice Achiever of the Year. “Ilham has impressed since the day he entered our kitchen with his passion for cooking, attitude to learn and develop himself and his never ending smile!” said Serena Ryan, Learning and Development Coordinator at The Seafood Restaurant.

Scott Allen, from St Austell, was awarded Apprentice of the Year in Customer Service and Retail for being an incredible asset to Cornwall Hospice Care since he started his Apprenticeship. He has saved the charity money and been pivotal in delivering an ambitious IT project. His enthusiasm has never faltered and he has become a very valued member of the team.

The Apprentice of the Year in Engineering was presented to David Winter from Restormel CNC Engineering. David, from St Austell, has shown exceptional achievement both at work and at Truro and Penwith College, passing his Diploma and attending Computer Aided Design evening classes. In the workplace David has become a valuable, well respected member of the Restormel CNC team. He is managing the coolant levels and quality throughout the plant and has completed the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme and Ten Tors challenge in his spare time!

Jack Ward, from Truro, is an apprentice with CSW Construction and won Apprentice of the Year in Construction. Jack is very driven to succeed in the construction industry and this is shown clearly in his attitude towards his college work and his work life. He has purchased his own work van and achieved distinction in all 9 graded practicals. In his nomination Jack was praised for his, “Attitude, work ethic, attendance and his skills have been brilliant.”

Matt Fulford, from Bodmin, works for Eden Project and was awarded Apprentice of the Year in Business. During his time at Eden Project, Matt has injected positive new ideas, while being committed to his study and fitting in a week long residential leadership programme in Dartmoor.

“Matt is completely trustworthy and isn’t someone who will settle for just ‘doing his job’ – he wants to learn, take on more responsibility and help his colleagues. Since he joined there has been a greater team spirit within the team and this isn’t a coincidence – he has new ideas, energy and a positive can-do attitude that is infectious. He is genuinely liked by everyone across the board at Eden, which is a real bonus in a HR team! Simply put, we wouldn’t cope without Matt now and we feel he deserves to be recognised for this!” said Jed Langdon, Learning & Development Specialist at Eden Project.

The Apprentice of the Year in Health and Social Care and Childcare award was presented to Somer Miles, from St Austell. When Somer was 17 years old she left home to live independently so that she could complete her Apprenticeship at Little Stars Nursery as the public transport was not adequate for her working hours. She completed her Level 2 Childcare Apprenticeship and progressed straight onto her Level 3 diploma so that she could take on extra responsibilities. She has also taken on more responsibility working with children with additional needs – an area she now wants to specialise in.

Kieran Douglas, from Par, was the second winner from Eden Project when he was awarded Apprentice of the Year in Hospitality. Kieran has not only developed new winning dishes for the menu but also in his spare time studies the science of how bread rises!

In his nomination, Eden’s Jed Langdon said: “Kieran has a passion to progress, he embraces every challenge throw at him. He is a fantastic role model for other apprentices and has represented Eden at external food demos. He has a sparkle in his eye, constantly pushing to be the best chef he can so much so that the experienced chefs he is working with have forgotten he is an apprentice.”

The Apprentice of the Year in Hair and Beauty prize was awarded to Alice Rowling, from Perranporth, apprentice with S2 & S3 Hair Studios. As well as organising large charity hair and fashion shows in her own time, Alice has helped open a second salon, while becoming a qualified stylist.

“Alice is extremely presentable and approachable, clients absolutely love her. Her development over the last 2 years, as both a young lady and a stylist has left us confidently proud. Alice, although confident, is totally humble. She’s a real stylist and a total grafter,” said Sasha Kavanagh, Company Director.

Darren Little, from Marazion, won Apprentice of the Year in Management and Marketing for his work at St. Aubyns Estate. Anna Tribe, Darren’s Training Adviser at Truro and Penwith College, described him as, “A leader amongst peers on his course. His calm, capable and professional demeanour has made him the person of choice to feature on a number of television programmes on gardening, gardens and St Michael’s Mount. He has attended ropes access courses to enable him to reach and maintain even the most inaccessible areas of the Mount! He is a perfect example of why apprenticeships can work so well for people who are already in employment.”

Corey Riches, from St Austell, is an apprentice at Leap and was awarded Apprentice of the Year in Digital and IT. Corey has made an amazing difference to Leap and now handles the entire digital side for the company. He has been involved with a vast range of projects, including a huge server upgrade.

“In a short period of time Corey has gone from an apprentice to a valued member of the team producing work locally, nationally and internationally. He is always polite and informative and, due to his hard work, his first quarterly bonus saw him get an Apple iWatch way before any of the rest of the team. Even if he doesn’t win the award we have won the employee,” said Matt Hocking, Director at Leap.

Apprentice of the Year in Motor Vehicle
was awarded to Jacob Wood, from Penzance, who works at Trelawney Citroen. Jacob has an outstanding commitment to getting the job done, ahead of time and to a very high standard and pushing for more. Clif Woodall, Jacob’s lecturer at Truro and Penwith College, said: “He has the ability to complete anything which I have set before him and come back for more before he was expected to. He has a real hunger, commitment and enthusiasm for motor vehicle mechanics.”

In addition to all the worthy winners in the apprentice categories, Cornish businesses were also recognised for their contribution to Apprenticeships. The Apprentice Employer of the Year (SME) accolade was awarded to Tom Raffield Design, where 5 out of 8 employees are or have been apprentices, proving developing a business through using apprenticeship programmes actually works. His apprentices have accompanied him to various trade shows, exhibitions and events, including locations as far away as China.

The Seafood Restaurant were awarded Apprentice Employer of the Year (Large) for training 65 apprentice chefs, including 14 starting last month. Rick Stein said: “Joining an Apprenticeship scheme in our industry means you will gain a wealth of experience and knowledge; there is no substitute for learning while working because you rapidly develop the skills needed.”

The apprentice chefs are taught at Padstow Seafood School in fantastic bespoke facilities and the programme culminates each year with the apprentices cooking a gala dinner for Rick Stein, along with the head chefs and tutors who have supported the programme. The Seafood Restaurant and the Rick Stein Academy at Truro and Penwith College set the standard many organisations aspire to, by continuing to provide opportunities for all who want to make a career in the hospitality industry.

Nominees, families, friends and businesses enjoyed a night to remember. The prestigious ceremony was opened by Truro and Penwith College Principal David Walrond who said: “Apprenticeships are about choice and opportunity. They are about giving individuals the skills to contribute to the local economy. They mean businesses can grow their own talent, and can respond to skills shortages by developing the skills they need. They are about bringing young talent, looking to work rather than to university, into local businesses. They are about training existing staff, giving them a range of skills and qualifications so they can progress.”

The Awards presentation, hosted by Pirate FM’s Neil Caddy and Holly Day, was preceded by a delicious Awards dinner, designed and prepared by Stephane Delourme, Head Chef at The Seafood Restaurant, assisted by chefs from the Rick Stein Academy, with further support and hard work from Truro and Penwith College’s front of house apprentices.