Achiever of the Year 2019

The Achiever of the Year category awards an Apprentice who has overcome significant personal milestones, or has gone the extra mile to benefit themselves, their employer or their community.

The stories of the Achiever of the Year nominees are listed below, along with the opportunity to take part in our public vote. The result of the public vote will be combined with judges scores to determine the category winner.

Amelia Wilson is presented with the 2018 Achiever of the Year Award and is joined on stage by the highly commended nominees and Tim Rumbelow from sponsors Cornwall Live.

Amelia Wilson with Tim Rumbelow from Cornwall Live and highly commended nominees; Ben Mailes (right) and Shannon Mayes (left).

The voting is now closed. Thanks for your vote!

Mimi Beard

Job Title: Trainee Tax Accountant
Apprenticeship: AAT Level 3
Learning Provider: Cornwall College
Employer: PKF Francis Clark

Mimi's apprenticeship journey has seen her go from living in sheltered accommodation with a history of homelessness, destitution, abuse and mental and physical health challenges to working in the biggest accountancy firm in the South West. She has passed all exams so far with pass rates of 89% and above and she has taken on additional roles outside of her apprenticeship. 

Mimi is a utilised VBA Coder (the programming language of Excel and other Office software) in the firm, which she taught herself in her own time. Mimi has already risen to the position of Tax Junior at PKF Francis Clark and is now a Software Champion in a role with the Developmental Tech team. She is also going to become part of the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network where she will mentor other apprentices.

Personally, Mimi helped run the Google Development Group Falmouth, worked in a tech start-up and helped found Women Technmaker South West. Her story has seen her interviewed by the BBC, profiled in Cornwall's top Women in Tech List and Careers Hub and Mimi is now working to create the Elevate Program to help other disadvantaged people get into professional businesses.

Sophie Riley

Job Title: Apprentice Marketing Assistant
Apprenticeship: Digital Marketer Level 3
Learning Provider: Truro & Penwith College
Employer: Truro & Penwith College

Performing in a fast-paced environment is a challenge for any apprentice, but Sophie has done this despite juggling the challenges she has faced with epilepsy.

Sophie's medication can make her feel tired and lethargic, but at no time has she let this affect her commitment to her work. Inevitably, Sophie has had to deal with seizures that make her feel very drained for up to two days, but she often refuses to let this stop her, making it back into the office as soon as she feels well enough to complete work projects for the team.

Unable to drive because of her condition, Sophie arranges public transport or lifts to get to work and external events. Sophie was a vital member of the College's UCAS Fair team in 2019, where the College spoke to hundreds of students interested in studying University level programmes.

Over the Christmas and New Year of 2018/19, Sophie experienced an invasive procedure to isolate the area of her brain that is responsible for seizure activity. This left Sophie with the option of having parts of her brain removed to try and cure her epilepsy. Despite risks including possible short-term memory loss and damage to her peripheral vision Sophie bravely decided to go ahead.

Sophie was then called into hospital for surgery earlier than expected, but took part in a postponed Skype interview on 4 September and was thrilled to learn that she successfully passed her apprenticeship.

Sophie has been instrumental in growing the College's Higher Education Instagram page to over 1,100 followers, in a period that has also seen our University Facebook audience grow by over 10%.

In her first twelve months, the College's University landing webpage was visited by nearly 3,000 more unique individuals than the previous year.

Brandon Penwarden

Job Title: Commis Chef Apprentice
Apprenticeship: Commis Chef Level 2
Learning Provider: Truro & Penwith College
Employer: St Austell Brewery

Brandon was diagnosed with cancer on the brain when he was 18 months old. Surgery meant he had to relearn to walk and talk, putting him two years behind those of the same age and still presents him with learning difficulties.

This also resulted in Hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body), with hard work Brandon limited the effects to muscles in his left arm and leg but is visually impaired in his left eye. Tasks such as walking from A to B or standing in the same spot, take a lot of energy causing him to suffer from a condition called 'brain tiredness'.

Brandon's right ankle and wrist end up taking on extra strain to help him compensate, at times becoming extremely sore. Surgery at such a young age has resulted in debilitating migraines and makes sleeping very difficult.

Doctors told Brandon that his Hemiplegia meant that he would never be able to walk again. However, at the age of 18, he is able to walk and function well considering the ordeal he has experienced. Those that work with him say he usually has a big smile on his face and maintains a positive attitude in the face of any challenge.

Brandon joined The Pier House Hotel in 2018, one of St Austell Brewery's busiest managed sites and successfully assists chefs with his preparation work, producing dishes from the cold side of the kitchen, jacket potatoes and sandwich menus.

His is so determined to succeed that he has taught himself to fillet fish and debone chicken with one hand, a feat that everyone around him thought would be unachievable!