Apprentice of the Year 2023


Category criteria

  • This award recognises the progress and achievements made by young people both in an educational setting and in their workplace.

  • Apprentices can be at any stage of their apprenticeship journey and can be working within any industry or sector.

  • They may be nominated by their employer or training provider or they may put themselves forward, endorsed by their employer.

Kathryn Arnot

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Recently qualified apprentice Kathryn Arnot has played a key role in increasing profits for her employer, Stafford-based medical device development consultancy Haughton Design.
She joined the company in 2018 as a marketing assistant to look after marketing and to assist the directors and has since been appointed as its Business Director.
The 26-year-old had already completed a digital marketing apprenticeship earlier in her career and then in December 2022 graduated from a Staffordshire University Business Management Degree Apprenticeship with first class honours.
“Kathryn played a significant role and contribution in expanding Haughton Design’s marketing quality and reach, managing clients as well as winning work through tendering processes to double Haughton Design’s turnover from £701,000 in 2020 to £1.4 million in 2021 in addition to managing the company’s commercials and operations during this period,” said a Haughton Design spokesperson.
“Having helped the company achieve its 2022 growth plans, more recently Kathryn has organised and led the development of the formal business plan, strategy and revised growth plan for the next three years where she will play a key role in doubling the company’s turnover once again to £3 million in 2026.”
In January 2023 Kathryn gained Chartership of the Chartered Management Institute.
She has now been nominated as an Apprentice of the Year in the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Miles Parrish

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Accountancy apprentice Miles Parrish has been called mature, hard working and a credit to his department.
The level 2 apprentice, who is based at City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, has been nominated in the Apprentice of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
Julie Ball, Trust Finance Manager for the Potteries Educational Trust, said: “Miles is currently doing his AAT Level 2 and is working extremely hard to achieve this goal. His work on his portfolio is always up-to-date and sometimes he is at a more advanced stage than he needs to be.
“He has done so well in his exams, passing them with a score in the high 80s and 90s. The feedback I receive from his tutors at Newcastle College is exemplary, his classwork is of an excellent standard, his commitment is commendable and his attitude is admirable.
“He has integrated himself into a very busy, hardworking finance department well and his contribution has been recognised by all of the team.
“He can work independently and also with the team. He is keen to learn new skills and listens to instructions well. He is meticulous and careful with his work, knowing the importance of accuracy in the finance world.
“He has worked hard on his communication skills, interacting with students at the college on a daily basis and assisting with any problems they may need help with.
“His confidence on working with other staff at the college has grown and he has shown maturity in dealing with senior staff. He is a credit to the finance department and we are very proud of him.”
Miles has been working at the college since September 2022.

Josh Fawcett

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Electronic engineering apprentice Josh Fawcett has progressed as double speed according to his employers, automation technology company Promtek.
He joined the Brindley Ford company as a Level 6 apprentice in May 2022 and within six months had developed to a stage that would usually be expected after 12 months.
He has now been nominated as an Apprentice of the Year in the Staffordshire University Business Awards by Richard Key, Engineering Manager at Promtek.
Richard said: “Within six months Josh had already completed his first calibration as a lead engineer and also completed 24 hour support. To put this into context, the normal progress curve would normally be around 12 months before an apprentice was ready to take on this level of responsibility.
“it is a testament to Josh’s enthusiasm, work ethic and confidence that he has been able to progress at such a fast rate.
“Josh has also been working within the service and calibration team to document and look at the constant improvements that can be made to the processes. He has demonstrated this by producing many how-to guides and most recently a calibration standard.
“I would like to nominate Josh as Apprentice of the Year for hitting the ground while running and bringing value to his role within a short space of time.”

Daniel Humphreys

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Daniel Humphreys has been called ‘a perfect example of what you can achieve through apprenticeships’ by his employers, Hixon-based The HEX Group.
He joined the company as a 16-year-old school leaver and studied for a Level 3 Mechanical Apprenticeship with Alpha Manufacturing, a division of The HEX Group.
Six years on and he is a crucial part of The HEX Group maintenance team, where he works as a maintenance engineer and electrician.
He has completed a second apprenticeship, a Level 4 Electrical Engineering apprenticeship which he completed in February of this year, two years ahead of schedule.
Daniel has won several awards, both within the company and externally, including being named Outstanding Apprentice of the Year at The HEX Group’s inaugural Apprenticeship Awards Evening.
This award recognised the apprentice who stood out the most to the business throughout the year, going above and beyond and displaying an outstanding commitment to learning, growth and development.
In January this year he was recognised by the Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group who awarded him Apprentice of the Month.
This June he picked up another award from the college when he was presented with the Advanced Apprentice Award at the NSGC Celebration Awards 2023.
Matt Trussler, Facilities Manager at The HEX Group, said: "Dan is the perfect example of what you can achieve through apprenticeships with the right level of passion and commitment.
“He is an extremely hardworking and conscientious individual who is a true team player. It's been a pleasure to manage and mentor him – I’m so proud of what he's achieved.
"He is a crucial member of our maintenance team, always willing to go above and beyond and keep The HEX Group running. He is a credit to himself and The HEX Group, and he has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Daniel has now been nominated as an Apprentice of the Year in the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Leonie Aldridge

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Business admin apprentice Leonie Aldridge has already made a big impact despite only joining automation technology company Promtek last September.
The Brindley Ford company had recently lost a key member of its accounts team and Leonie was able to step into the breach.
She has now been nominated as an Apprentice of the Year in the Staffordshire University Business Awards by Richard Key, Engineering Manager at Promtek.
Richard said: “Leonie Aldridge started with the company in September 2022 as a Level 3 Apprentice in Business Admin.
“At the time of Leonie starting with the business we had unfortunately lost a key member of staff who sorted all of our accounts.
“Having already done a Level 2 Apprenticeship in bookkeeping Leonie was keen to help in any way that she could with the accounts.
“This came at a time that this skill was really needed within the business and Leonie was able to step up to the business needs and assist the managers and directors during a very difficult time.
“Her attitude towards work is exemplary. She is always willing to help out and has been developing and updating processes for the business in invoicing, expenses, wage calculations, time tracking reporting and analysis and purchase orders.
“I would like to put Leonie forward for Apprentice of the Year as in a very short space of time she has managed to make a big impact on the company.”
A family-run business, Promtek was set up by Peter Williams in 1972. Peter is now semi-retired but still remains active in the business with his sons Charles, Simon and Daniel taking over the daily reins.

Abbey Eames

Apprentice of the Year entrant

An apprentice is sometimes thought of as a more junior member of staff, but that is far from the case for Abbey Eames.
The 29-year-old manages a depot for her employers, NWF Fuels, and has responsibility for a team of 22 including 14 drivers and eight office staff.
She manages trucks stationed at a terminal in Kingsbury and a refinery in Immingham, looking after a fleet of 13 tankers covering Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
Abbey completed a Level 5 Operations and Departmental Manager Apprenticeship with Staffordshire University last year and is currently topping up to Level 6, with her course due to complete in summer 2024.
She has been nominated in the Apprentice of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
Abbey said: “The apprenticeship has helped me to grow as a person as well as in a work capacity.
“It’s been nice to interact with people from other businesses who are part of the same cohort and to learn from them.
“I’ve had to make friends and build a rapport with other people in the cohort and a new tutor for every module which has been good for my confidence.”
She added: “It can be hard working full-time alongside studying but I’m very self-motivated and it means a lot to me so I’ve made sure I’ve done everything well.”
Abbey, who manages the Nottingham and Immingham depot of NWF Fuels, has completed modules including Managing and Leading People and Teams, Managing Business Processes and Improving Your Performance. Each of these have given her a greater insight into her own job role and management.
She has been able to improve her existing skills and learn new skills, knowledge and behaviours across the apprenticeship, in particular learning new methods of managing her team and continuing her professional development.

Carly Forrester

Apprentice of the Year entrant

A Registered Nurse Degree Apprentice, who graduates from Staffordshire University this summer, has been called ‘a credit to our organisation’ by her employers.
Carly Forrester, who works at East Cheshire Hospice in Macclesfield, will graduate with first class honours.
The hospice is so proud of her achievement that it’s shared the news throughout the organisation and even highlighted Carly’s success at its recent Care Clinical Governance meeting.
“I’ve worked with Carly for six years so I’ve witnessed her drive, her skills and her knowledge within the palliative care field,” said Claire Barber, Inpatient Unit Manager at East Cheshire Hospice.
“We as an organisation facilitated her professional development, During this time it was quite clear that she wanted to progress her professional knowledge, so we helped her to take this to the next level. This included seconding her to fulfil her training. She’s come back to us with her new qualification.”
She added: “Getting a first class honours degree is incredible. We look forward to watching Carly grow even further and to seeing what the future holds for her.”
Carly has been nominated in the Apprentice of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
She said she initially started the apprenticeship to expand her knowledge and skills in nursing practice and has been able to work on her confidence and self-awareness to enable her to take on extra responsibilities at the hospice.
She said she’s found the work life balance of being an apprentice difficult at times but that dedication and a commitment to succeed made the journey easier.
Carly added that she worked with peers on the course to benefit from their own skills and knowledge.

Rachel Shingler

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Rachel Shingler has been described as ‘really amazing’ and praised for boosting morale by her colleagues on ward 76B at the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
Rachel graduates this summer after completing a Nursing Associate Apprenticeship as a mature student with Staffordshire University and has been nominated in the Apprentice of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
Ewelina Ajazi, Deputy Ward Manager of Ward 76B, has worked with Rachel since 2015.
She said: “Rachel was working as a nursing assistant when I came as a student nurse and we got to know each other. I then slowly climbed up the ladder and Rachel applied for Nurse Associate training.”
Rachel is now a registered practitioner and can do most of the work that nurses do including give medication other than IV medication.
“Rachel has been really, really amazing,” said Ewelina. “She’s fun, outgoing and easy to approach. She’s honest and very hard working. People love her because she gets the job done and has an amazing rapport with patients.”
She said Rachel has introduced a staff reward to keep morale high on the ward, which has now been adopted and continued by the team.
Ewelina added: “Rachel has been through some challenging times but she has kept going. I don’t think there’s anyone that would have a bad word to say about her.”
Rachel started her apprenticeship in 2019 and completed it in 2023 alongside working full time.
Classed as a foundation degree course, her apprenticeship saw her work alongside a nurse to learn aspects of the job and to become registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The course included a placement with the accident and emergency department where she gained a number of new skills and worked with patients she would not otherwise have had the opportunity to treat.
In 2020 Rachel was presented with an award by University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust to recognise her professional progress on the apprenticeship.

Tom Dean

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Apprentice Tom Dean is an ‘exceptional employee’ who has already made a significant impact according to his employers.
He joined Fenton-based audio visual company Connect Anything in late 2021 after leaving a college course that had not been a good fit for him and quickly discovered he had found his niche.
Projects he has been involved with include audio visual installations for the new Ricardo’s bar at Stoke City Football Club.
“This local project was close to all of our hearts and the dedication shown by Tom during this time-sensitive project was immaculate,” said Connect Anything CEO Tim Dean.
“Tom played a vital role in the installation of a 100+ inch LED screen and numerous wall-mounted entertainment screens. His attention to detail and precision in handling delicate equipment ensured that the installation was a resounding success.
“Tom’s exceptional performance during this project earned him valuable skills and experience that have contributed significantly to his personal development.”
Tom has been receiving on the job training after being paired with an experienced technical engineer. He’s completed training courses including Samsung LED installation, the Audinate Dante Certification program and Crestron technician certification to further his education in the audio visual sector.
In September he starts a level three electronics engineering course at NSCG which he will complete while continuing to work at Connect Anything.
Tom has been nominated in the Apprentice of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
Tim added: “Tom’s positive impact on the business and his dedication to personal development through study, educational courses, additional training and qualifications make him a deserving candidate for the Apprentice of the Year Award. Moreover, his contributions to the team and our clients further highlight his outstanding character and work ethic.”

Alex Wixon

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Alex Wixon was singled out for praise at his Staffordshire University graduation ceremony with University Chancellor Lord Stafford talking about his resilience and determination in his opening speech.
Alex was awarded a First Class Bachelor of Science with Honours in Digital and Technology Solutions following the completion of his Professional Apprenticeship (Integrated Degree) at Staffordshire University. He has been praised by course tutors and his employers, Stone-based technology firm Capula.
Now Alex, who joined Capula in 2018, has been nominated in the Apprentice of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
Dr Mohammad Hasan, one of Alex’s lecturers at Staffordshire University, said: “I am very happy that Alex is being nominated for the apprentice of the year award by Capula and heartily support this.
“I have been supervising Alex and have found him very sincere, self-motivated, active and eager to learn. His current progress in his apprenticeship project is outstanding. I wish him all the success in his life.”
Alex has consistently achieved grades over and above even his own aspirations, regardless of the subject matter.
On many occasions Alex has tied his academic progress to practical projects being run by his department at Capula, such as improvements to wireless systems and core networks, which has benefitted both the business and his academic studies.

Working within the IT department, Alex has led on multiple high-risk projects and developed solutions that provide great value for his employer.
Members of his team say Alex is a pleasure to work with and is highly respected within Capula, positively engaging and continually supporting his colleagues.
Alex has been universally praised by the business as consistently being an excellent engineer whose skills, particularly regarding server administration and networking, are far above that expected of someone so early on in their career.
He constantly goes above and beyond to resolve highly technical issues and is respected by all his peers, both in the department and the wider engineering delivery teams.

During Alex’s final year project he identified weaknesses in Capula’s current core networking infrastructure and was not only able to completely redesign the entire corporate system to be far more resilient, but also dramatically improving the management and security of the devices. This greatly increased the entire systems speed and has gone further by finding ways to reutilise existing equipment which has kept costs far lower than was ever expected. This solution is of huge value to the organisation and exemplifies just how valuable Alex is to the business. Normally such a project would have been given to a senior engineer.

Thomas Mitchell

Apprentice of the Year entrant

Degree apprentice Thomas Mitchell is already leading and delivering high-risk projects for his employer, the Stone-based digital and technology firm Capula.
Tom joined Capula in 2018 and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering under the Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer Degree Apprenticeship Standard at Staffordshire University.

Tom has been highly praised by his employers for consistently exhibiting qualities of an excellent engineer; demonstrating a willingness to progress, learn and develop.
He is respected by all his peers, both in the department and the wider team, to lead and deliver high-risk projects, most notably for an Intrusion Detection System for a critical infrastructure customer.
Colleagues say Tom is a pleasure to work with and that he is an ideal candidate to be nominated for Apprentice of the Year at the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
Working within the Energy department, Tom has recently undertaken a more primary role within the team for an Intrusion Detection System preparation project, completing design drawings as well as writing site safety documents for installations.

Tom has led multiple critical projects for the cyber security aspects of Substation Control Systems projects, driving them forward to completion, whilst mentoring new starters.
He takes considerable pride in the teaching of the project process from start to finish, ensuring members of the team can become self-sufficient when producing drawings and documents. This reinforces Tom’s commitment to delivering the best results for the business.

Commenting on Tom’s nomination, Tony Birks, Capula Operations Manager, said: “Tom routinely demonstrates the behaviours needed to ensure we deliver the best results for our customers, he has an exceptional work ethic, making him a valuable and relied upon member of our team.”

Sean Ryder, Capula Site Manager, commented in a recent witness report relating to a project Tom completed for a Substation Site Install: “Thomas has successfully led the installation and assisted commissioning of the Intrusion Detection System at a critical national infrastructures customer’s site.

“Thomas carried out his work in a professional manner and communicated extremely well with the client. Thomas’ understanding of IDS was very clear, and his confidence was evident throughout the works. Thomas ensured Capula completed a high-quality installation and was involved with the commissioning of the system.

“Thomas was health and safety conscience, and the quality of his work was once again impeccable. He has grown exponentially over the last 12 months and has taken a leading role in the IDS team. I believe the next move for Tom is commissioning an IDS project with minimal input from the Commissioning Engineers.”

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