Outstanding local construction and manufacturing apprentices have been recognised for their efforts and abilities at a virtual awards ceremony held as part of Plymouth’s National Apprenticeship Week 2021.

The Awards were led jointly by Building Plymouth and the Plymouth Manufacturers’ Group (PMG), with nominations submitted by local employers and training providers, with 30 finalist apprentices celebrated, and five overall winners presented top awards.

Tommy Burr was awarded the prestigious Building Plymouth Construction Technical Apprentice of the Year 2021. Tommy is undertaking a Higher Level 4 in Construction Contracting Operations/ Construction in the Built Environment Level 4 with Midas Construction and Exeter College.

On winning his award Tommy Burr, Trainee Quantity Surveyor at Midas Construction, said: “I am very happy and proud to have won this award. To be nominated and then to win this particular award is really gratifying and makes all the hard work worthwhile. After just three years in the industry, I understand the importance of having experienced mentors at Midas to assist in my development and I thank them for all their support. I believe this award will help me going forward in the industry and develop my career in exciting and challenging areas. Having had the opportunity to be part of the teams delivering projects of significant value and undertaking a number of different roles, I consider the attainment of the award to be one of my biggest achievements working for Midas, but hopefully not the last.”

Andrew Faulkner, Senior Quantity Surveyor at Midas Construction and Tommy’s line manager, said: “I am delighted for Tommy and this award is well-earned recognition for his dedication and hard work. In all my career I’ve never worked with such a promising and well-balanced individual. The cornerstone to Tommy’s success is his exemplary attitude towards life; approaching work, education and his private life in a balanced and complementary fashion. Tommy has maturity, wisdom and professionalism beyond his years and the ability to operate and contribute at every level in the workplace. The high regard in which Tommy is held by everyone at Midas, our supply chain and client teams is inspirational and a reflection of his impressive ambition and desire to continuously learn, progress and contribute every day. I’m very proud and grateful to have Tommy in my team and have no doubt that in years to come, he will be a leading light in our industry.”

Sophie Graham was next up, winning the highly respected Ron Simmonds Construction Trade Apprentice of the Year 2021 Award. Sophie is undertaking an Intermediate Level 2 in Painting and Decorating with JWB Décor and City College Plymouth. Sophie said: “I am so proud to have achieved this award, it shows that it is never too late to go back into education and change career for the best. I am so happy in my job at BLKC and having the education and competitions alongside it makes me strive to be the best I can be. It’s what we do as a great team at BLKC Decorators.”

Employer Jamie Both said: “Sophie is an outstanding student who prides herself in her work and will always go that extra mile to make sure it’s perfect.”

2021 marked the second year that the PMG has run an apprenticeship competition. This year three apprentices were recognised as overall winners.

The first award announced was the PMG Manufacturing Rising Star Apprentice for 2021 which was awarded to Cleopatra Thatcher, a Level 4 Higher Level Mechanical Apprentice at Babcock International, studying with City College Plymouth.  Cleo said of her award: “I am so proud to have represented Babcock International Group at the Plymouth Manufacturers' Group Apprenticeship Awards and I was completely taken aback to find out I had won the Rising Star Award. A huge thank you to everyone at Babcock who has supported my development. Joining the apprenticeship programme was the best decision I ever made!”

Next up was the award for PMG Business Rising Star Apprentice for 2021 which went to Beth Tout from Collins Aerospace, who is undertaking a L4 Commercial Procurement and Supply Apprenticeship with Achievement Training. Beth said: “Choosing to pursue an apprenticeship was one of the best decisions I have made. It’s a great way to learn and achieve a qualification and I’m very grateful to have been recognised with this award.” 

Donna Aldridge, Training Coordinator at Collins Aerospace, was delighted for Beth and said, “It’s fantastic to see Beth recognised for her hard work. She is an asset to the team.”

Last but by no means least, the Award for PMG Manufacturing Final Year Apprentice for 2021 went to Owen Baylis, who completed a Level 4 Higher Level Apprenticeship with Babcock International and City College Plymouth in September 2020. Owen, who is now a Junior Technical Engineer at Babcock, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have received the PMG Manufacturing award! For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an engineer so it means a great deal to me. To anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship, I could not recommend it enough. It has given me essential practical engineering knowledge and experience, including a number of qualifications that I now use every day.”

Paul Foster, Managing Director Devonport Royal Dockyard commented: “Babcock is proud to continue investing in a wide range of long established apprenticeship programmes. Last year we recruited 145 apprentices, fulfilling a variety of roles, including Welding; Electrical, Mechanical and Marine Pipe Fitting; and Fabricating, with similar numbers being sought for the next cohort of apprentices to start in September of this year.

“Our apprentices work across our business alongside a variety of knowledgeable and passionate employees who pass on their skills and experience to help build the capabilities we need for the future.  We’re extremely proud of Cleo and Owen and everyone that has supported them in the business.”

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans OBE, said: “It has been a pleasure to present Plymouth’s Construction and Manufacturing Apprentice of the Year Awards which has given us a great platform to shine a light on the amazing opportunities that an apprenticeship brings to employers, individuals and the economy. I would like to thank our local employers and training providers who have gone above and beyond to ensure apprentices have been able to continue their studies and on the job learning during this unprecedented time. I would also like to pay tribute to all our apprentices for their dedication and efforts in working so hard to continue advancing with their apprenticeship despite the challenges and impact of the pandemic.”

At the awards ceremony, the Finalist and Highly Commended construction and manufacturing apprentices were all celebrated for their success and commended for the high standards they have shown in their achievements and skills developed during their apprenticeships.  

Details of Building Plymouth Winners, Highly Commended and Finalists can be found at www.buildingplymouth.co.uk/news/the-winners-are

Details of the Plymouth Manufacturers’ Group Highly Commended and Finalists can be found at plymouthmakes.co.uk/news-blogs/plymouth-manufacturers-group-hosts-a-virtual-the-apprentice-of-the-year-awards-2021/

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