Apprentices, their families and colleagues came together on Friday night to celebrate in style as Truro College’s Gannel Building played host to the 2016 Cornwall Apprenticeship Awards.

The achievements of 39 shortlisted learners and employers involved in apprenticeship training were recognised, with 36-year-old Emma Ferguson from Harrowbarrow and Metherell Pre-School in Callington, named overall Apprentice of the Year.

Moving from volunteer, to managing and running an entire pre-school within less than a term may sound impossible, but that’s exactly what she achieved and impressed the judges.

Apprentice of the Year, Emma Ferguson
Apprentice of the Year, Emma Ferguson

“I’m completely overwhelmed,” she said. “I was absolutely honoured to be nominated and to actually win it is unbelievable, it feels a bit surreal.”

Other winners on the night included professional cookery apprentice, Lucy Wilton, from the Eden Project, who was named Achiever of the Year.

Tregothnan Estate picked up the Apprentice Employer of the Year award in the SME category, while Cormac Solutions took the prize in the Large Employer category.

Speaking after the event, David Walrond, principal of Truro and Penwith College, said: “With growing numbers of young people choosing apprenticeships as their next step in education, the awards provide the perfect opportunity to acknowledge their achievements and their crucial role in boosting Cornwall’s socio-economic health and prospects.

“Truro and Penwith College is passionate about Apprenticeships and working with local businesses to provide Apprentices with an outstanding learning experience as they progress along their career paths.”

Full list of winners

Cornwall’s 2016 Apprentice of the Year and Apprentice of the Year in Health, Social Care and Childcare

  • Winner: Emma Ferguson
  • Employer: Harrowbarrow and Metherell Pre-School
  • Training Provider: Truro and Penwith College

Extract from nomination:

After being a volunteer and committee member at the Pre-school for several years, Emma was recruited as a temporary member of staff in the summer of 2015. With the Deputy Setting Leader leaving the pre-school during this period, Emma successfully applied for the position, having already identified an apprenticeship training programme that would enable her to become qualified in just over a year. Due to unfortunate circumstances the Pre-School’s Leader was signed off sick for a long period of time, resulting in Emma rising to Acting Setting Leader within the first term of her apprenticeship.

Ross Dyter, Chairman, Harrowbarrow and Metherell Pre-School commented: “The way Emma rose to the challenge was admirable, she fully embraced the challenges which leading a Pre-School setting poses and capably undertook all the planning and preparation of all the activities within the pre-school. Despite all the challenges that Emma has faced during her time as Acting Setting Leader, the pre-school has been highly successful. This is clearly demonstrated by the number of children attending the pre-school at the start of September. At a time when numbers usually drop significantly, we have more children on the books than we have had for many years.”

Apprentice Employer of the Year (SME)

  • Winner: Tregothnan Estate

Tregothnan Estate stated their Apprenticeship programme to develop the next generation of employees, allowing them to mould new recruits to their bespoke requirements. Current staff have benefited from the scheme, developing their leadership and management skills. Claire Scholes, Management Accountant, Tregothnan Estate, “The apprenticeship programme has allowed us to become a business where we can pass on our skills to new generations providing succession for many trades that are overlooked by younger generations… The change in the Estate since running the apprenticeship scheme has been huge in culturally changing how we approach knowledge share.”

To ensure that apprentices have as much experience and time to develop as possible, Tregothnan Estate employ them for a minimum of two years which allows the business to see growth and encourages extra training to build their individual skill requirements.

Apprentice Employer of the Year (Large)  

  • Winner: CORMAC Solutions Ltd (also shortlisted for this category in 2015)

CORMAC set out a clear career path for their apprentices, many of whom have diversified into leadership and management roles. CORMAC also offer Apprenticeships to existing employees, recognising that they offer the opportunity to upskill and develop their workforce.

Beth Garvin, Organisational Development Officer, CORMAC; “In the past year our number of apprentices has grown and our business plan allows for the recruitment of up to twenty new apprentices per year. Many areas of our business are growing and the apprenticeship programme is enabling us to have a long term, sustainable growth programme.”

CORMAC are currently aiming to double the number of apprentices in the business, which is currently sitting at 40.

Apprentice of the Year – Hospitality

  • Winner: Callum Sims
  • Employer: The Sharksfin
  • Training Provider: Cornwall College

Ben Ambridge, Executive Chef at the Sharksfin said; “Callum always remains calm, works methodically and delivers outstanding results under intense pressure, with a skill set that is rare in the hospitality industry. He is constantly extending his knowledge base and gaining respect from the rest of the team for his work ethic. We have featured dishes that Callum has created on out menu and they have always been well received”.

Apprentice of the Year – Accountancy

  • Winner: Katie Tester
  • Employer: Acorn Academy Cornwall
  • Training Provider: Truro and Penwith College

Katie’s nominator, Gaynor Boyden, Business Manager at Acorn Academy Cornwall said; “Katie has transformed from a shy quiet individual, to a young lady who has volunteered to train new staff, is responsible for raising all central purchase orders and processing invoices, she is also raising sales invoices for the whole Trust and dealing with supplier statements while setting up a workable system for us. I believe Katie has grown so much as a person and an employee in such a short period of time. She has had much to learn and has taken on any task with enthusiasm… I was so pleased with her progress that I have since taken on another apprentice and can’t see me stopping from here”.

Apprentice of the Year – Construction

  • Winner: Jack Adamson
  • Employer: Corbey Construction
  • Training Provider: Truro and Penwith College

Giles Corbey, Managing Director, Corbey Construction nominated Jack and commented: “Jack is consistently producing work that is way above the standards expected for someone who has only just finished his level two apprenticeship. He is an asset to Corbey Construction and has exceeded in every challenge that has been put in front of him. Jack is reliable, works very hard in a physical role, has an excellent attitude and consistently produces work to the standard expected of a qualified tradesman. I’ve worked in the construction industry for nearly 30 years and I have trained 25+ Apprentices, Jack is as good at this stage of his training as anyone I have had before. If he continues to maintain the standard he is producing now he will have a long and successful career in the construction industry”.

Apprentice of the Year – Digital and IT

  • Winner: Bryony Simpson
  • Employer: Eden Project
  • Training Provider: Plymouth College of Art

Jed Langdon, Learning and Development Specialist, Eden Project commented; “Bryony has shown significant growth in both her personal and professional development during her Apprenticeship. She has become an integral part of the interpretation team and has been offered a position as a Junior Graphic Designer. Bryony created a 120 page hardback book for Eden’s Big Lunch Project of which 2000 copies were professionally produced. Bryony managed the whole process from concept to production by herself and showed huge levels of professionalism and efficiency throughout. She has also produced many posters and graphics that have been displayed on site, student handbooks for the rest of Eden’s apprentices and Higher Education students and was involved in developing jute bag designs for Eden’s retail department, one of which has been produced and is for sale in the Eden shop and online”.

Apprentice of the Year – Management and Marketing

  • Winner: Shannon Wilby
  • Employer: Eden Project
  • Training Provider: Cornwall College

Shannon’s nominator, Jed Langdon, Learning and Development Specialist, Eden Project said: “Shannon is excelling on the Apprenticeship programme and in that time has established herself as a key part of Eden’s Live Events team, bringing a fresh and youthful air to the department. Shannon has earned so much confidence from her managers that during her first year she was entrusted to plan and manage her own live music event for families. The event was delivered so successfully that even the more senior team members gained ideas about how they can manage their events more effectively, so Shannon’s ideas are already having a positive impact on the team”.

Apprentice of the Year – Business

  • Winner: Stephanie Ould
  • Employer: Cornwall Council
  • Training Provider: Cornwall Adult Education

Elizabeth Symons, Talent and Development Consultant, Cornwall Adult Education said; “Steph has become the central contact for both customers and the team, providing invaluable day to day support. She is willing to take on any task asked of her, and will go out of her way to make sure it is completed. Steph has supported the team to develop their work experience offer, where she has helped to ensure that there has been an increase in the number of work experience placements offered for 15/16. Steph volunteered to be part of a cross-service project group, with a number of senior managers and leaders across the service. This could have been daunting for some, but she has used it as a learning opportunity. Steph has demonstrated an exceptional level of dedication and commitment to ensure that she is able to complete her qualification and can develop and progress within the organisation”.

Apprentice of the Year – Customer Service and Retail

  • Winner: Natalie Stephens
  • Employer: Ann’s Cottage
  • Training Provider: Truro and Penwith College

Natalie’s nominator, April Wakeling, Area Manager, Ann’s Cottage commented; “Natalie’s merchandising skills have been the driving force behind Ann’s Cottage’s shortlisting for a Drapers award for Independent lifestyle retailer of the year 2016. She was commissioned to design an eye-catching centre piece with Croc’s brand and won first place in an inter-store competition. She is also an ambassador for Nalu and negotiates directly with the brand as well as volunteering with Roxy, for which she was highly commended. She has developed a niche for relating to customers’ needs and providing outstanding customer service and as such has influenced Ann’s Cottage’s highly respected mystery shop results, through applying her diverse product knowledge and customer service skills, making influencing her to be seen as a future Supervisor within Ann’s Cottage.

Apprentice of the Year – Hair and Beauty

  • Winner: Daisy Baxter
  • Employer: Marzipan Hair
  • Training Provider: Truro and Penwith College

Daisy was a highly commended nominee in this category in 2015, and has now gone on to win the award. Her Manager, Hannah Thomas commented: “Daisy’s skills are on par with stylists who have been on numerous professional courses which is reflected in her growing client list. Daisy is precise in her work and she understand the methods and techniques needed to achieve the desired result. She carries a list on her phone of techniques she needs to practice and is constantly asked the right questions to build her knowledge. Daisy is always happy, positive and keen, this has ensured she is well liked and trusted by the whole team and her clients. In the 16 years of being in the hairdressing industry I have never met anyone so passionate, hard-working, skilful and well liked as Daisy. As a salon owner I feel lucky to have her in our team.”

Apprentice of the Year – Motor Vehicle

  • Winner: Gytis Tumasonis
  • Employer: Newtown MOT & Service Centre
  • Training Provider: Truro and Penwith College

Gytis’ nominator, Jack Butterworth, Business Development Advisor at Truro and Penwith College said: “Gytis excelled from the outset, completing his academic units and practical assessments in double quick time while maintaining the highest standards of work. Gytis has achieved outstanding results in completing the units of study at Truro College, far in advance of the official schedule and is so far ahead in his practical abilities. He is far exceeding Newtown MOT and Service Centre’s expectations due to his impeccable time keeping and attendance records, he is conscientious in his work and has very good customer service skills. Gytis has used his quick thinking abilities to good effect by taking on an unofficial ‘mentoring’ role with his colleagues”.

Apprentice of the Year – Engineering

  • Winner: Samuel Morley
  • Employer: WES Engineering Solutions
  • Training Provider: Truro and Penwith College

Samuel was highly commended in this category in 2015, and was crowned winner this year. His nominator, Jack Butterworth from Truro and Penwith College said: “Sam is often taking on small improvement projects without prompting from his mentors or managers to improve the manufacturing processes within the plant. He was actively involved in a project that allowed the company to run the EDM Cell, a manufacturing process which is very difficult to understand and manage, it is considered by many to be a Black Art mastered over many years of experience. Sam is an exceptional Apprentice who has taken the opportunity to learn new skills and advance his knowledge of Engineering”.

Apprentice Achiever of the Year

  • Winner: Lucy Wilton
  • Employer: Eden Project
  • Training Provider: Cornwall College

After a challenging upbringing Lucy initially entered her role at the Eden Project with low self-confidence, since then she has grown enormously into an Apprentice that is treated more like a Commis Chef. Her nominator, Jed Langdon from the Eden Project said: “Lucy has shone, she has created dishes for Eden’s Mediterranean Terrace Restaurant and had her recipes published in Eden Life magazine, she was involved in the Eden Sessions and contributed to the Crunch event, an important charitable event, where she assisted Senior Chefs and had her dessert ideas produced and served. Furthermore, due to family circumstances she juggles being in the workplace to assisting a family member in hospital. It amazes her managers how she is able to do this whilst at the same time putting in extremely hard work at work and in her training”.