Apprentices, their families and colleagues came together on Friday night to celebrate in style as Truro and Penwith College played host to the 2016 Cornwall Apprenticeship Awards.
Holly Day and Neil Caddy from Pirate FM took centre stage with sponsors from businesses across Cornwall, to recognise and reward the exceptional achievement of 39 shortlisted learners and employers involved in Apprenticeship training.
Moving from volunteer, to managing and running an entire pre-school within less than a term may sound impossible, but that’s exactly what was achieved by Cornwall’s 2016 Apprentice of the Year, 36-year-old Emma Ferguson from Harrowbarrow and Metherell Pre-School in Callington.
After being a volunteer and committee member at the Pre-school for several years, Emma, who lives in Callington, 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.
Emma was delighted that her efforts meant she’d won the overall Apprentice of the year award and is looking forward to moving onto a new challenge with the pre-school.
“I’m completely overwhelmed,” she said of winning the award. “I was absolutely honoured to be nominated and to actually win it is unbelievable, it feels a bit surreal.”
Despite some initial doubts, Emma praised the Apprenticeship route as a central cog in her continued career success.
“Having a great qualification sets me up to be a play leader full-time,” she added. “I did think that maybe I was too old but actually age doesn’t come into it at all. An Apprenticeship is really fulfilling, informative and a really good way of learning to do it on the job. The tutors here are brilliant and without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”
By Christmas 2015 Emma’s colleague and Setting Leader was diagnosed with cancer and signed off work, hoping to return before Christmas 2016. Rising from Deputy, to Acting Setting Leader in astonishing fashion, Emma organised a rota of qualified staff and worked with other local pre-schools, utilising their staff to enable the Pre-School to remained open.
Since rising to the initial challenge, Emma has fully embraced the responsibility of leading the Pre-School, not only taking responsibility for the day-to-day running, but also modifying and updating policies and procedures in line with changes in legislation and best practices highlighted on her course at Truro and Penwith College.
Emma has received advice and support from College tutors when faced with any challenges, most of her assignments have developed solutions for real challenges faced by the Pre-School and these have been applied in the workplace.
Emma’s responsibilities at the Pre-School meant all of her College work needed to be completed in the evenings and as the Pre-School is based at a local village hall, she often returns in the evening, after other events to prepare for the next morning, all while caring for her own pre-school aged children and planning her wedding!
Ross Dyter, Chairman, Harrowbarrow and Metherell Pre-School, said: “Emma has brought and exceptional interpersonal qualities to our organisation. Arguably her greatest achievement has been the successful application for support and assessments for a child and family at the pre-school who desperately needed it. She was determined to secure this support to enable the child to develop to their full potential when starting school”. Mr Dyter continued, “Despite all the challenges that Emma has faced during her time as acting setting leader, the pre-school has been highly successful. At a time when numbers usually drop significantly, we have more children on the books than we have had for many years”.
Professional Cookery Apprentice Lucy Wilton, from the Eden Project, was awarded Achiever of the Year by Award Partners GetMyFirstJob. Ten months into her Apprenticeship Lucy has shown massive improvement in her self-confidence after a very challenging upbringing, and due to family circumstances juggles being in the workplace with assisting a family member in hospital.
Lucy was “over-the-moon” to be named Apprentice Achiever of the year.
“It feels really good to win,” she said. “I’m over the moon and couldn’t be happier. I’m loving my work at the minute and want to go really far, one day to open my own restaurant.”
Explaining why she chose the Apprenticeship route, Lucy added: “I chose an Apprenticeship because I didn’t want to be at College full-time; it’s more outgoing and I feel more confident doing it. I’ve learnt so much, I have qualifications, the list goes on and on. I recommend an Apprenticeship to everyone I see because you get so much from it and achieve so much.”
An Apprenticeship is really fulfilling, informative and a really good way of learning to do it on the job.
In her work, Lucy has developed her practical skills to an exceptional level that has seen her treated more like a Commis Chef by her colleagues. This exceptional performance has seen dishes Lucy has created for Eden’s Mediterranean Terrace restaurant published in Eden Life Magazine, she was also involved in catering for the Eden Session events and had her dessert ideas produced and served at an important charity event for Eden.
Jed Langdon, Learning and Development Specialist at the Eden Project, said; “Amongst the best of the qualities that Lucy has shown so far is her tenacity and determination to succeed in becoming a fantastic Chef, she really will take on any challenge and conquer it. She is extremely hardworking and always wants to keep busy, rather than being prompted as to what to do next. From the first day we interviewed Lucy and listened to her troubled upbringing and how she deals with a tough family life, and then actually taking about food, her whole face would change from a troubled youngster, to a huge beaming smile of passion towards anything food related, and its infectious.”
Speaking after the event, David Walrond, Principal of Truro and Penwith College, who hosted the Awards and presented the coveted 2016 Apprentice of the Year Award commented: “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”.
The Awards presentation, was preceded by a delicious dinner, designed by students Matthew Walker and Toby Cooper who won an in class master chef competition with Truro and Penwith College’s Rick Stein Academy. Dinner was prepared and served by students of the Academy who were assisted in the kitchen by Nick Evans, Head Chef Lecturer from Rick Stein’s Seafood School.
Truro and Penwith College would like to thank the event sponsors for their support with the Awards: GetMyFirstJob, Pirate FM, Interserve, Cornwall Care, NatWest, Cornish Pirates, St. Austell Brewery, The Rick Stein Group, West Briton, WES Engineering Solutions, SAM’s Cornwall, Midas, The Headland Hotel, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, Robinson Reed Layton and Cormac.