Celebrating apprenticeship achievements at the annual Apprenticeship Awards

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South Devon College recently hosted its prestigious annual Apprenticeship Awards at The Grand Hotel in Torquay, where apprentices, businesses, staff, family, friends and key college stakeholders came together to salute the success of apprentices across the College and University Centre South Devon.

The event was generously sponsored by Brixham Trawler Agents, Interfish Producer Organisation, Ocean Torbay, Sirona Spa, Finlake Resort and Spa, Whistl Fulfilment (South West), Tomlinson Solutions Ltd, Willmott Dixon, Full Board Gaming, Waterdance Ltd, The Bay Care Group Ltd, Mercure Paignton and Ibis Styles Paignton, Teignbridge Propellers International Ltd, Wollens, Torbay Council, St Austell Brewery, Torbay Business Forum, Premier Marinas and the Pennon Group.

A record number of 161 nominations were submitted, spanning 20 categories, including computing, catering, business and management, and marine.

Laurence Frewin, Principal of South Devon College, said: “This evening is about celebrating and showcasing the fantastic success of our great local apprentices and their brilliant employers – we are proud to celebrate success at South Devon College and it is an important part of our day-to-day culture.”

The awards evening was compered by Ben Pountney, Head of Business Solutions and Apprenticeships at South Devon College, and featured inspirational speeches from Nigel Fenn, Chair of the South West Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, and Carol Pengilly, a Level 3 Gas Engineering apprentice from ML Eden Plumbing and Heating, who shared her experiences of carving out success in a male-dominated industry.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Spike Reid, a designer, writer, adventurer and photographer who paddleboarded the length of the River Ganges and spent seven months circumnavigating the globe.

Judges were Jacqueline Hobson, Enterprise Coordinator at Heart of the South West Careers Hub; Connor Conneely, Senior Economic Development Officer at Torbay Council; Steve Reynolds, Chair of Torbay Business Forum; and Ben Pountney from South Devon College.

Nigel Fenn from Pennon; Spike Reid, adventurer; Ben Pountney, Head of Business Solutions and Apprenticeships at South Devon College; Matt Harbour, Vice Principal at South Devon College; Stuart Elford from Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce; and Carol Pengilly, apprentice from South Devon College

Ben Pountney, Head of Business Solutions and Apprenticeships at South Devon College, said: “There is growing awareness that Apprenticeships in the 21st century are not exclusively for young people.

“A key Government objective is to ensure that Apprenticeships have parity of esteem with higher education as more Advanced, Higher and Degree level apprenticeships become available. There has never been a better time to earn and learn.”

The overall winner of the awards was Karen Mitchell, a Level 6 Chartered Management Degree Apprentice at Livewell South West, who was presented with her Apprentice of the Year award by the headline sponsors Brixham Trawler Agents.

Karen, a mother of five, was selected for the award for her unwavering dedication and commitment to excellence in the fields of both business and management and healthcare. On top of her studies, she volunteered as an ambassador for the Apprenticeship Program, and served as a guest speaker at employer events, still achieving a First Class Honours degree, plus a Distinction in the CMDA Apprenticeship.

Karen said: “The Apprenticeship Degree has been amazing for me, firstly because of the eclectic mix of people on the course, so there is a crossover of learning from people in completely different professions from myself – it was a great learning environment.

“Secondly the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship CMDA and the CMI qualification – it was portfolio based so I could ground it in my practice, which meant it was very useful in my everyday job, and I could pick topics and assignments which related directly to my practice, which really benefitted me.

“The College has really helped me to achieve my goal and gain my Level 6 qualification, and my employer has been outstanding in supporting me and giving me protected study time to achieve my deadlines.”

Laurence Frewin concluded: “I am delighted that in 2023/24 the College supported over 1,000 local employers and providing apprenticeship training for more than 1,500 apprentices. We saw amazing numbers of adult apprentices as well as younger apprentices and increasing interest in higher levels.

“More employers are rightly choosing to engage with the apprenticeship programme as a way to develop the skills of existing staff and to bring in and support new recruits. So, a very big thank you to all our employers for your ongoing commitment to providing these opportunities for local talent.”

Full list of winners and highly commended apprentices:

Automotive Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Poppy Jones

Highly commended: Dylan Bolingbroke

Highly commended: Charlie Taff-Lavitt

Beauty and Hairdressing Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Keelie Seymour

Highly commended: Ava Mae Mahoney

Highly commended: Keelie Seymour

Business and Management Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Karen Mitchell

Highly commended: Kelsey Cresser

Highly commended: Zach Thorp

Catering Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Henry Westlake

Highly commended: Kim Sear

Highly commended: Tom Vollans

Computing Apprentice of the Year

Winner: George Davidson

Highly commended: Arran Gallagher

Construction Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Lewis Round

Highly commended: James Piller

Highly commended: Nina Mansell

Digital Media Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Lucy Slatter

Highly commended: Mia Burton

Engineering Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Matthew Sluman

Highly commended: Matt Roope

Highly commended: Grace Thompson

Health Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Jason Parker

Highly commended: Shannon Hore

Highly commended: Zoe Taylor

Hospitality Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Matthew Hallett

Highly commended: Harry Dupi

Highly commended: Emilie Frost

Marine Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Archie Cox

Highly commended: Charlie Smithson

Highly commended: Harry Neath-Rogers

Plumbing and Electrical Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Louis Spink

Highly commended: Harvey Urquhart

Highly commended: Carol Pengilly

Sport Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Lulu Sinar

Highly commended: Lilly Burton

Teaching and Learning Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Keyleigh Mead

Highly commended: Stuart Gill

Highly commended: Jennifer Coe

Higher Level/Degree Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Andrew Waite

Highly commended: Rupert Barter

Highly commended: Bryony Hunt

Best Large Employer (for employers with 50 employees or more)

Winner: Pennon

Highly commended: St Austell Brewery

Highly commended: Specsavers

Best Small Employer (for employers with 49 or less employees)

Winner: Moores Construction

Highly commended: ACM Garage

Highly commended: Ellis Building Services

South Devon College Apprenticeship Staff Member of the Year

Winner: Emma Flack

Highly commended: Steve Dowell

Highly commended: Mel Glew

Employer Staff Apprenticeship Ambassador

Winner: Emily Pearson

Highly commended: Jade Pleass

Highly commended: Chrissie Santic Linford

Apprentice of the Year

Karen Mitchell – Level 6 Chartered Management Degree Apprentice at Livewell South West

Featured Image: Apprenticeship Awards winners and highly commended