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Apprentice of the Year 2017 LOGO


This year we held the 13th Guild Apprentice of the Year Awards which continually sees ongoing developments to keep them relevant to today’s world, and will continue to do so.

These awards have continued to gather momentum and prestige over the years and we are proud that we receive applications from such a diverse range of apprentice schemes including engineering, manufacturing, all types of business activities, schools and education, the health service, dressmaking, vehicle maintenance, and housing services to name a few.

This year we saw a very high quality of applications – making the shortlisting, and the final decision of who should be our Apprentices of the Year and Endeavour Award winner even more difficult than usual.

Each year we seek nominations from businesses and training providers for young people who have shown exceptional ability in their chosen apprenticeship and whose achievements will inspire others. An application form is completed which provides us with details of the apprentice’s academic and job attainments, career prospects, participation in other activities (including community work) and other supporting information – particularly any obstacles the apprentice has overcome. From the applications a short-listing panel selects six finalists – three in the Small/Medium Employer category and three in the Large Employer category. In addition, the panel looks for potential finalists for our Endeavour Award which is a discretionary award for exceptional achievement for example through civic participation, voluntary work and/or overcoming a difficult challenge in life. The finalists are then interviewed by a panel of judges drawn from the Guild, community, business and academia.

All of our finalists were invited to the Apprentice of the Year Awards 2017 dinner held in St Mary’s Guildhall on 23 January 2018. The Lord Mayor, Cllr Tony Skipper and Guild Master, Anthony Archer, made presentations to the Apprentices of the Year in the Small/Medium Employer and Large Employer categories, the Endeavour Award winner and to the remaining finalists.

In addition to a trophy and certificate, the two Apprentices of the Year received cheques for £1000, The Endeavour Award winner received a cheque for £100 and the finalists received a cheque for £100. Presentations of trophies were also made to the employers and training providers of the two Apprentices of the Year.

An additional prize was offered to the three winners by Commander Ben Keith, Captain of HMS Diamond.  The commander has kindly invited the winners for a day aboard HMS Diamond.  Many thanks to the Commander for his very generous gift.


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Coventry Freemen’s Guild Apprentice of the Year Awards Finalists 2017 (above)

From left to right:

Kevin Rodgers Chief Executive of WM Housing Group, Louise Holbrook, Chris West, Georgia Gaga, Guild Master Anthony Archer; Sian Evans, Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Skipper, Jeremy Blakey, Lann Perry, Jake Hyams

We were delighted to welcome Kevin Rodgers, Chief Executive of WM Housing Group as our guest speaker.


The Results!

Apprentice of the Year Small/Medium Employer 2017

Georgia Gaga

Employer – Dafferns LLP, Coventry

Training Provider – Coventry & Warwickshire Training


Other Finalists in the Small Employer Category 2017

Louise Holbrook – Premier Choice Telecom

Chris West – G3 Communications

Apprentice of the Year Large Employer 2017

Jeremy Blakey

Employer – Jaguar Land Rover

Training Provider – Warwickshire College


Other Finalists in the Large Employer Category 2017

Jake Hyams – Ardagh Group

Lann Perry – Siemens Industrial Turbine

Endeavour Award Winner 2017

Sian Evans – Jaguar Land Rover



Profiles of our Apprentices of the Year, Endeavour Award Winner and Finalists

Apprentice of the Year 2017, Small/Medium Employer – Georgia Gaga

Georgia Gaga is 20 years old and undertaking an apprenticeship in accountancy with Dafferns Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, Coventry.

Georgia has always loved maths and numbers – she likes things that are right or wrong, with no grey areas and that are well organised.

She fast tracked to Level 3 of the Association of Accounting Technicians, completing this with overall merits ahead of schedule, and has passed her first exams for Level 4. She then intends to progress to work towards becoming a Chartered Accountant.

Dafferns encourages junior members of staff to look at processes and suggest better ways of working. Georgia led a team to review options and propose solutions in the current software used. She presented the outcome of the project to the partners and the result has been the migration of servers to cloud based hosting, and the implementation of electronic auditing software.

Georgia is the youngest member of staff to attend networking events, including the Young Professionals network and is keen to grow her own network to see what opportunities may be available where she can use her skills in the wider community.

Georgia has already taken her love of numbers and organisation into her voluntary work with the scouting movement. As well as being the youngest Akela in the area for the local cubs group, she is also a member of the Executive Committee and treasurer for the scouts group and is responsible for collecting subs, invoicing, banking, record keeping and producing annual financial statements.

As Akela she is responsible for organising activities for 30 eight to ten-year olds – having grown the group from just five when she took over.

Georgia also plays football every week and captains her girls’ team, goes to the gym to keep fit and enjoys watching Coventry Blaze playing ice-hockey at the weekend.

She has worked hard to achieve a good work/life balance and believes strongly in finding the positives in whatever life throws at her.

Apprentice of the Year 2017, Large Employer – Jeremy Blakey

Jeremy Blakey is 22 years old and is working towards a Higher Degree Apprenticeship with Jaguar Land Rover.

Jeremy completed a Foundation Degree in his first two years and achieved a distinction as well as completing extra modules. He also completed a Level 2 NVQ, and is now part way through completing a Level 4 NVQ. He is one of only five apprentices to pass the Warwick University entry exam allowing him to progress to the second year. Despite working a year ahead, he achieved a first for this year, as well as taking extra level 7 qualifications and working towards an MSc.

Jeremy’s role in JLR is to deliver parametric CAD models with key engineering embedded which rapidly speed up the design process, whilst preventing expensive design oversights and mistakes. This year Jeremy has delivered 10 parametric models – exceeding the annual target of four. One of these is now the most used model in the business, used 657 times by 66 people and is used in the in house parametric CAD modelling course. Other work he has done in this area is estimated to save JLR nearly £300,000 per year and up to £1 million compared with doing the work manually – and this is only the figure based on time saved.

Jeremy has developed a very keen interest in observing different manager’s styles and the impact they have on people’s development – something he is keen to explore further. He has also observed the impact of good project management and is looking forward to the Masters module in this subject.

When not working or studying, Jeremy is a keen member of the American football club at Uni and through the club gets involved in charity work, for example volunteering at a youth club. He also enjoys working on the restoration of a 1973 Datsun Fairlady Z.

As a STEM Ambassador Jeremy developed and ran an interactive workshop at Duxford Imperial War Museum to teach year 5 and 6 students about the manufacturing processes used in the automotive sector. He regularly promotes apprenticeships by attending schools’ careers fairs and visiting schools.

Endeavour Award 2017 – Sian Evans

This is a discretionary award for exceptional achievement for a person who has overcome a significant life challenge, and despite this has achieved success within their apprenticeship.

For the first 19 years of her life Sian Evans was in constant pain, and had no idea why – having been told it was all in her head. She said it was actually a relief when a physiotherapist suggested she check whether she had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – and found she did – even though this syndrome is a deteriorating disorder that affects the body’s connective tissues that support the skin, bones, blood vessels and many other internal organs and tissues.

Sian’s diagnosis came in her first year as an apprentice, the fact that it was identified that it was not safe for her to continue with her selected pathway tested her new-found confidence as a successful and aspiring apprentice.

Sian decided that she could either let this stop her, or push herself, more determined onto the next challenge. So she re-evaluated, taking into account her condition and formulated a plan which she discussed with her employer and Training Provider. This secured her a new position with JLR in Measurement Point Planning – a key role from early design up to production vehicles. It meant she had to restudy a new range of engineering subjects at College, and different Performing Engineering Operations workshop skills to those already studied in Year 1 – as well as catching up on a year of the new syllabus. By the end of her third year Sian had completed her Level 2 and Level 3 BTEC in Product Development Engineering at a merit level – completely in line with her own original peer group which is quite remarkable!

The mental impact of years without a diagnosis took its toll on Sian – particularly as to look at her she looks like any other fit and healthy young woman, with no visible disability.

She decided to use her experience to try and help others, and has undertaken a mental health awareness course, putting herself forward as an ambassador for mental health within the company. She also has plans to become a mental health first aider.

Sian has proactively participated in events at schools and is passionate about encouraging young girls to consider a career in engineering, and intends also to encourage youngsters with disabilities.

In addition to all of this Sian is back in the gym 5 days a week and enjoys weight lifting as a she likes a challenge! She is also a talented amateur photographer and offers lessons to people going through difficult times.

Louise Holbrook

Louise Holbrook is 21 years old and is a Telecommunications apprentice with Premier Choice Telecom.

Louise started out as a hairdressing apprentice, but after four years didn’t feel this gave her the sort of career progression she was looking for.

Her Telecoms apprenticeship involved block release attendance, studying units for the Edexcel Level 3 Certificate in ICT systems and principles, and Work Based learning for Edexcel Level 3 Diploma in Professional Competence for IT and Telecom Professionals.

Louise’s portfolio was described as exemplary and is now being used as a bench mark for other students – her tutor commented that he hadn’t seen better for a long time.

Louise clearly impressed her managers at Premier Choice as well, who have now offered her a permanent role managing the mobile department. Louise has thrown herself into company life and is also the head of first aid and a fire warden, and is keen to pass on her learning to help new apprentices succeed as she has done.

As well as developing her career, Louise is keen to contribute to her local community. She is a Special Constable with the Metropolitan Police Force and volunteers sixteen hours a month working 7pm to 3am shifts – taking part in organising community events and also responding to 999 calls during her shifts.

The role is challenging and requires her, in Louise’s words, to push herself past the fear in some of the situations she is faced with.

She has learnt to knit so that she can create hats and scarves for the homeless and toys for the local children’s hospital.

At Christmas she was able to use her hairdressing skills when she was a volunteer with CRISIS, the national charity for homeless people. She provided haircuts and conversation for those that wanted to talk.

She has recently bought a house with her partner and is very enthusiastically demolishing large parts of it which she hopes they can eventually rebuild.

Chris West

Chris West is 24 years old and was also a Telecommunications apprentice prior to gaining a permanent job with G3 Communications.

Chris has completed the Edexcel Level 3 Certificate in ICT systems and principles, and Work Based learning for Edexcel Level 3 Diploma in Professional Competence for IT and Telecom Professionals. His work was of a very high standard, meeting all targets and well within the required timescales.

Chris experienced a setback during his apprenticeship when his employer was planning to terminate his apprenticeship due to cutbacks in the company. Chris negotiated a plan with his manager which led to him being able to complete all of the work required. He coped well with changing roles within G3 when restructuring was announced and his role in telecoms was redundant. He transferred to IT and has adapted so well to the changes that he is now a Junior IT Support Engineer having proved himself to be an asset to the company.

Chris enjoys solving the many problems referred to him and the credibility that comes with satisfying his customers.

Chris is passionate about playing for his successful eleven aside football team at weekends. He generally plays centre midfield but prefers to be upfront as there is less running.

This was surprising when we also heard that he had trained for and run the Paris marathon with his sister raising a lot of money for the charity Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association. – a charity important to him having had a friend, who was a member of the services, die about four years ago.

Sadly, Chris has recently had to cope with the death of another friend but feels that these experiences have made him stronger and able to deal with anything life throws at him now.

Jake Hyams

Jake Hyams is a 20-year-old Engineering apprentice in his final year as a Multi-Skilled Maintenance apprentice with the Ardagh Group.

He has attained a number of qualifications in the BTec National Level 3 Diploma in Engineering, achieving merits, distinctions and double distinctions. He subsequently obtained straight distinctions in the first year of his HNC.

Jake has also completed an NVQ Extended Diploma in Engineering. He is looking forward to furthering his study with an HND and degree pathway advancing towards a Masters if he has the opportunity.

Not surprisingly Jake was shortlisted for MGTS HNC Apprentice of the Year.

Jake was given responsibility for a project which he completed with three days to spare after testing, and without faults when the line started up. Overall savings are in the region of £30,000 per year and he is now assisting with implementing this work in other areas of the plant and in other plants with an estimated saving of £100,000.

Not surprisingly Jake now has an apprentice shadowing him and is acting as his mentor. He wants to pass on his learning to new apprentices and developed and set up a shared apprentice network folder. He is keen to develop into a qualified mentor and become an expert witness allowing him to sign off apprentices work in the future.

When not working, Jake enjoys Saturday 5 kilometre runs at his local Parkrun. He also helps run a local 5 and 7 a side football league in Daventry.

Over the last two years he was heavily involved in running summer tournaments raising over £2000 for Macmillan – increasing to over £3000 after running a half marathon. The charity is very close to his heart with close family members having needed their services.

He has recently helped his brother with the restoration of a 1993 Suzuki SJ 413 4×4 which they sold for a profit. There is now space in the garage which will hopefully be filled with building a Mark 1 triumph Spitfire!

Lann Perry

Lann Perry is 22 years old and is undertaking an Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering Manufacture with the Siemens Industrial Turbine Company.

As part of his apprenticeship Lann has achieved a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Engineering with distinctions in all of the units. He is now taking the HNC General Engineering course having achieved a score of 97% in the screening test. He is also progressing well in his NVQ level 3 Extended Diploma, and already secured a full-time role as a Life Cycle Engineer. Following completion of his apprenticeship programme and HNC, Lann hopes to progress to an Engineering Degree course with a view to gaining Chartered Engineer status. He is also interested in having a Project Management role with engineering and business responsibilities with Siemens, as well as mentoring new apprentices.

Lann has also completed his company training to achieve Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Status. In addition, he has the project management lead on a new Work Experience website aimed at 14-18 year olds, as well as working on larger projects with a predicted half million pounds of business savings.

He has been nominated within the company for two Champion Scheme awards for his efforts in producing a competitive business model for one of their products, and being one of four members to start the NEXT UK initiative at the Siemens Warwick site which focuses on collaboration, networking and career development.

As a STEM ambassador Lann takes part in various activities including school careers shows and assemblies; being involved with a Green Power Project – a school project collaboration; organising apprentice trips; training and social events; and sitting on the College Higher Education Feedback Council.

Lann has a mixed bag of hobbies including hiking, fishing, drawing and recently making handcrafted rings. He is also undertaking the Three Peaks challenge to raise money for charity.


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If you have any questions or require further information please contact

Judy Ryder


A history of the competition and a list of previous winners can be found here.

The Freemen’s Guild is grateful for the support of our sponsors for the

Apprentice of the Year Awards 2017 


New Coventry College LogoWhitefriars 3

mgts    bansal

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