Apprenticeship Award Winners

At Derwentside College we are very proud of our learners achievements, and when you become an apprentice the opportunities are endless.  Did you know, as an apprentice you can be nominated for both local and national awards?

Here are just a few of the college's success stories: 

Employed by Durham Constabulary as a sergeant in the Police office at South Moor, Dave has the very demanding task of juggling the work of the station single-handedly.  Despite the considerable demands on his time, Dave has worked exceptionally hard to complete his Apprenticeship.  Often having to work extremely long hours, as well as committing time to his studies, Dave’s diligence and good humour have seen him through.  It’s hard to list all of Dave’s sterling qualities, but at the top would have to be his dedication to the community of Stanley.  Dave is very proactive, in working with other agencies; to serve meals to those in need as well as collaborating with Projects to keep young people safe.  A glance at his portfolio illustrates Dave goes far beyond the call of duty and despite the intensity of his role, Dave has proved he is a force to be reckoned with. 


Andrew first joined the College on a Level 3 study programme and through determination and a natural ability, he went on to excel, achieving Distinctions and Merits along the way.  Naturally gifted at his subject, Andrew also studied a Performing Engineering qualification, which honed his hand and machining skills to precision.  Not content at this, Andrew’s enthusiasm knew no bounds and he enrolled on a night class to study 3D Modelling!!  With such a passion to learn and a growing wealth of skills, it’s not surprising that Andrew is already receiving glowing reports for his Apprenticeship with Con Mech Engineers in Harelaw.  Described as “a truly outstanding individual”, Andrew is currently studying an HNC in Mechanical Engineering, where we are sure he is guaranteed a very rewarding future indeed.

Samantha first joined us in 2013 and one of her first tasks was to produce an ‘Air Driven Engine’, using lathes, milling and drilling machines and bench fitting techniques!  Despite being well into the new millennium, engineering is still a male-dominated industry, which makes Samantha’s story of achievement all the more special.  Being the only female in a class of 20, Samantha had to prove herself and beat off stiff competition from her male peers to gain a coveted Apprenticeship at Pinnacle-Re-TecCarrying out her work in a highly professional and very logical manner, Samantha’s reviews are always extremely positive.  Now in the final weeks of her Advanced Apprenticeship Samantha is aiming to become a top precision machinist in the future. 

With a drive to succeed in the electrical installation industry, Matthew’s aptitude was clearly visible from the beginning.  Joining McVickers Electrical Contractors in Greencroft, as an adult apprentice, Matthew quickly made his mark, with his work to the highest of standards.  Having worked on a broad range of projects, including commercial sites and domestic properties, Matthew took all the overtime offered, to help the company and gain even more expertise.  On recently achieving his Apprenticeship, Matthew was promoted to the role of estimator in recognition of his outstanding work ethic.  Categorized as “one of the best students I have had the pleasure of working with” by his tutor, Matthew is now tipped to become a driving force of the McVickers team, where we are sure he can look forward to a very bright and rewarding career.

Lisa works in a very demanding job, which entails her supporting ex-offenders, illicit drug misusers and alcohol addicts.  Due to the nature of her role, Lisa has to deal with threatening and violent behaviour and has to take an assertive line with clients, despite their negative reactions!!  As an ideal candidate for the Apprenticeship, Lisa proved she was worthy of the faith that her assessor had in her.  Despite having to deal with a number of hurdles, including coping with Dyslexia and threats to herself and her family from clients - leading to Lisa having to take a break in learning: she still, surprisingly, managed to complete on time…  Achieving so much personally by gaining her first-ever qualification, Lisa has nowprogressed to the Advanced Apprenticeship, where we are sure her resilience for future success will know no bounds.

Having worked as a member of domestic staff at Gainford Care Homes in Birtley, Anne’s manager noted her caring personality and approached her about working as a care assistant.  After consideration, Anne decided to try this out, but was initially apprehensive as she’d been out of education for quite some time.  Anne need not have been concerned however, as she produced an excellent standard of work.  With her compassionate nature and attention to detail, Anne has gone over-and-above to provide a caring environment for her service users, as well as being particularly supportive to new staff.  It is for all these reasons and more; Anne has been promoted to the role of team leader.  Highly respected for all that she does - we have to agree Anne’s manager made a very wise choice indeed…  Having now progressed to the Advanced Apprenticeship, we would like to wish Anne, our very best!

At the beginning of her studies Shazia had little confidence in her own ability, but her employer ‘Storage Equipment Safety Service’ in Cramlington are very keen to develop their staff and support their personal development.  As her studies progressed, Shazia’s ability to carry out complex system changes proved to be staggering!  As qualification milestones were achieved her assessor noticed Shazia’s self-confidence improve and the self-belief she displayed was a joy to witness!  Having now proudly completed her Advanced apprenticeship, Shazia has progressed to the Higher level where she is embracing the research tasks required, and applying them to her organisation’s needs, with innovation far beyond the requirements of the qualification!  So its little wonder Shazia was successful in obtaining the coveted position of Team Leader in the company’s Planning Department. 

Having had a previously unsuccessful start to a college course, Jasmine was given another opportunity to show her commitment and ability on the Level 2 Certificate in Hairdressing.  It was a good decision, as Jasmine shone on the course – notching up an exemplary attendance and showing a dedication to achieve at all cost.  Quiet by nature, but with excellent communication skills, Jasmine gained top marks in all course elements, as well as demonstrating a natural flair for hairdressing.  But it’s not just in College where Jasmine has excelled, as she successfully secured an apprenticeship at Hair by Peter, in Consett.  Now with a superb opportunity to put her knowledge and techniques to great effect, we are sure Jasmine will be a great asset in the workplace. 

Joining College with a Level 2 Cookery qualification in-hand, Daniel set his sights on Level 3.  Whilst successfully completing a trial period at Coffea Caban in Sunderland, Daniel received excellent customer feedback, which ensured him a permanent position.  Balancing early morning shifts and long hours at work, Daniel’s journey to College included a 60-mile round trip, which he managed to do in all weathers!  With a growing confidence in his culinary expertise, Daniel creates exciting new menus whilst keeping a keen eye on budgetary control!  Now having progressed to the Hospitality Supervision & Leadership apprenticeship, Daniel is mentoring new apprentices and specialising in a range of gastronomic delights, including pasta dishes and his unique patisseries!  A competent chef and a perfect role model, we are sure Daniel’s methodical approach is now bound for even greater recognition. 

In April 2017, Alyson was promoted to the role of Group Training Manager for the Countrywide & Maria Mallaband Care Group.  It’s quite some task as a huge part of Alyson’s role is to ensure over 70 nursing and residential homes are compliant with mandatory training, as well as monitoring the compliance of 6,000 staff!  This is even more impressive as at the beginning of Alyson’s career she had no qualifications other than CSE’s!  And also, despite a long battle with cancer and having to undergo 12 operations during her training, Alyson’s formidable resolve to succeed has not been defeated and instead she has gone from strength-to strength.  Hand-in-hand with her academic success, Alyson has also seen the company grow considerably, whilst she has hugely changed the culture towards training.  Now studying a further Higher Apprenticeship, this time, in Leadership & Management, we know Alyson is set for even greater success. 

Starting her course behind schedule last November did not deter Casey from catching up with her male peers!  In fact, she gained even more respect from them and her tutors by doing so; and within months, Casey had been selected for a work placement with ACE.  Going on to be chosen as the first full-time learner of the year to gain an apprenticeship, Casey was also ACE’s first female bricklayer and, as such, is currently building sewers and drainage systems around the North East!  Describing her first experience of holding a trowel as ‘perfect’ and with the aspiration, motivation and discipline to succeed, Casey is totally impressing her managers as she develops the skills of a quality tradesperson.  Having now laid the foundations for a superstar career, it only remains for us to wish Casey every success.

Joining Clearly Drinks, one of the UK’s leading soft drinks producers in 2015, Stefan has been described by his tutor as one of the most exceptional apprentices he has worked with, as a result of Stefan’s inquisitive nature and insatiable thirst for knowledge which is second-to-none.  An extremely conscientious individual with a high aptitude for all disciplines within his chosen career, Stefan has greatly impressed his Engineering Manager by visibly demonstrating how much he wants to progress.  Having just passed his first HNC exam with an amazing 100% and with a great ability to see the ‘bigger picture’ of his production environment, Stefan’s employer believes they are incredibly lucky to have found him. 

Brian is no stranger to the College, as he previously studied a range of subjects from mechanical engineering to Communications and IT.  Later, leaving behind his plans of becoming an engineer, Brian took a job as a call-handler with the North East Ambulance Service where he was able to use his qualifications to good effect.  After a brief spell in A&E as a worker not a patient!; Brian went back to call-taking, before becoming an Emergency Care Assistant.  Finally deciding to realise his ambition of becoming a paramedic, Brian sought a further challenge by embarking on the Advanced Apprenticeship in Clinical Healthcare.  Having done exceptionally well with his research and theory topics– Brian is now studying at University to become a fully-fledged Paramedic.  We are in no doubt Brian’s determination, empathy and respect for patients will ensure a rewarding career for years to come.

From the outset of her studies, Louise was suffering with severe migraines, which she endured daily.  Sadly, in October of last year Louise suffered a small stroke, which caused some weakness on her right-side, as well as memory loss.  Battling through this series of unfortunate events, Louise declined the offer to postpone her course, hoping that concentrating on her qualification would take the focus away from her illness.  Despite being upbeat about carrying on with her studies, Louise’s migraines made it difficult to concentrate, nevertheless she still produced some fantastic work to achieve her qualification.  Having progressed to the role of Interim Branch Manager at Allied Health Care in Chester-le-Street, Louise feels her studies gave her the confidence she previously lacked.  Louise we applaud you for your admirable commitment and perseverance – you are a real inspiration.

Joining the Intermediate apprenticeship through the College’s partnership with County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Shawna was successful in gaining a job on the acute medical unit.  Having to cope with her own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, for the last 3-years, Shawna tries her best to focus on her role, taking her health condition in her stride.  And despite having “bad days”, she copes admirably well with her work and her studies!  Highly motivated, Shawna produced evidence to the highest of standards, as well as doing research projects that stretched and challenged her professional abilities.  Excelling in her job with her knowledge and patient care and now nearing the end of her Advanced Apprenticeship, Shawna has greatly benefitted from the support of her assessor and managers.  So much so, she is now mentoring two new apprentices and giving them advice and guidance on the ward.  With her sights set on a career in nursing and having already started a Foundation Degree, we are sure Shawna will be a ‘leading light’ in healthcare for years to come.

Beginning her role in Human Resources at Northumbria NHS Trust, Rebecca had very little confidence at the beginning, but with true grit and willpower she managed to keep focused.  As she developed into her H.R. role, Rebecca soon began to produce exceptional and meticulous work, whilst also supporting the professional development of her fellow learners.  As Rebecca’s work skills grew, so did her confidence and self-belief – much to the amazement of her work colleagues and College trainer.  So great was Rebecca’s commitment, that even after an accident where she suffered from significant ligament damage, she never missed a day of work – arranging numerous lifts until she was able to drive again!  Such determination and professionalism should always be applauded and it’s true to say that Rebecca is a perfect ambassador and an ideal role model for other learners.

Chris is the Learning and Development Manager at Sterling Pharma Solutions in Cramlington, a leading provider of services to the global pharmaceutical industry.  When Chris embarked on his Higher Apprenticeship - it was a very busy time for the company, as it was undergoing a change of ownership, which affected Chris’ everyday duties.  As the organisation continued to prosper, Chris was responsible for the training of a large number of apprentices, having to source appropriate training to develop them in their roles.  Subsequently, Chris developed a highly rewarding apprenticeship programme – supporting the apprentices through each stage of their development, which led to Sterling being recognised as North East Apprenticeship Employer of the Year!  Showing enormous commitment to his studies, Chris also developed some truly innovative ways of presenting his course work on digital files, enabling him to quickly progress.  Currently, playing an active role in the company’s leadership; with his hardworking approach and steadfast dedication, we are sure Chris will continue to be a leading example to others.

Following the success of his apprenticeship with Thorn Lighting, David was offered a permanent job as a Trainee Manufacturing Engineer.  Making a huge success of his employment and studies simultaneously, David completed work to the highest of standards.  To add to this, David’s impressive portfolio was well-presented and comprehensive and is now used as an exemplar of excellence for others!  Also gaining an HND in Manufacturing Engineering, David is described by his tutor as an excellent engineer, who will benefit any department.  With such a great attitude to work and now responsible for engineering disciplines across the organisation, David is providing ‘hands-on’ support to non-technical staff.  With David’s employer stating how extremely proud they are of the superb contribution he has made, it comes as no surprise David is now studying for an Engineering Degree at Teesside University

Tom Brighton, Rebecca Keay, Alfie McBurney & Iona Vasey.  Each of these talented young people took part in an Academy initiative with Cummins, the Global Power Leader, aimed at supporting Cummins to select the very best, as well as preparing potential candidates for employment.  The Cummins apprenticeship recruitment process saw over 150 applicants’ shortlisted to just 16 high-calibre young people!  These high-fliers then competed for only 4 apprenticeship opportunities undergoing a demanding process designed to take them outside of their comfort zone!  The 4 young people receiving this award were successful, having demonstrated outstanding individual skill and ability.   Alfie – with his great critical analysis and sharp eye for detail; Tom – who was tenacious, determined and passionate; Iona – a lady with a very level head and logical mind; and Rebecca – a resilient and focused leader!  Having truly proved themselves to be 4 stars of the future; tonight, we would like to wish you the best of luck on your apprenticeship journey. 

With an excellent attitude and commitment, Lee was an amazing apprentice from the outset!  Always leading by example and working to the highest of standards, Lee continually showed the desire to improve his skills and gain more knowledge.  He also gathered outstanding evidence that resulted in Lee becoming an excellent role model to others.  If this wasn’t enough, the feedback from his site mentors also reflects the high esteem in which Lee is held, with quotes including “Lee is the most fantastic apprentice!”  Having completed his Level 2 apprenticeship, Lee is now a valued member of Durham County Council’s Highways Maintenance Team.  There is a saying that ‘the road to success is always under construction’, but in Lee’s case, it sounds as though it’s well and truly on the path to completion!  With aspirations to teach the apprentices of the future, we are sure Lee will be successful in laying the foundations for generations to come.

Quiet and lacking in self- confidence, Lyndsey began with great trepidation - especially as she had to achieve Level 2 Maths as part of the programme!  Over the months, Lyndsey began to blossom, becoming more outgoing and confident, as well as putting a great effort into her studies and embracing many new tasks at Belle Vue Care Home, where she is employed.  Lyndsey was on tenterhooks when she took the demanding Level 2 maths test, but she scored an impressive 45 out of 48!  Now having achieved her apprenticeship, Lyndsey has been promoted to the role of senior carer.  Hoping to continue with her progression in learning new skills, Lyndsey’s enthusiasm for self-improvement has also encouraged her colleagues to join an apprenticeship!  Having said she is ‘totally thrilled’ to win this award; tonight, Lyndsey we would like to congratulate you on your admirable commitment and most importantly on your well-deserved promotion!

Samantha has unfortunately been on a much longer journey this year as a result of her health…  Samantha is a care worker at the ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’ in Leeds, where she has worked for over 20-years.  Being diagnosed with life-threatening problems earlier this year, Samantha has done her utmost not to let it affect her studies, so much so, she has continued to hand-in excellent work, even after undergoing two major operations!  Having had to convalesce after surgery, Samantha could not return to work, but still visited the care home as a volunteer in support of the residents.  Currently undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions, Samantha is now very near to completing her Advanced Apprenticeship.  Thoroughly deserving of this award for your positive attitude during your illness, and your commitment to your studies and residents. 

Leaving school with few qualifications, Vikki’s low self-esteem made her feel it was “impossible” to make anything of her life.  Believing she was destined to a life of menial jobs, Vikki was concerned she would barely make a living, never mind make a difference.  Whilst raising her young family, Vikki worked in a factory, whilst studying I.T. in the evening to improve her skills.  Becoming more confident, she gained an office job, but despite the improvement in her circumstances Vikki still needed a more fulfilling role.  Gaining a job at the North East Ambulance Service with the frontline emergency crew was to change all of that.  Juggling all aspects of her busy life, Vikki also found time to make a difference in providing outstanding care, to the point where she was nominated to compete in the UK Worldskills Competition!  And if winning the heats wasn’t tremendous enough, as you heard earlier, Vikki went on to win GOLD in the national finals this month!  What an amazing triumph!!  Vikki, we hope you can now look back on your outstanding progress with immense personal pride. 

Carolyn began the programme eager to develop her management skills to support her role as Deputy Site Lead for Clinical Photography at Durham Hospital.  From the outset Carolyn was determined to enhance her personal competence - embracing all the challenges of this higher-level qualification, whilst managing the demands of her busy role.  Excelling at the research tasks, Carolyn surpassed all of the expectations of her Training Consultant by applying her new knowledge to her own professional role.  Having submitted some of the very best assignments her Trainer has ever seen, Carolyn was soon promoted to the Site Lead for the Northern Trust area.  With such an amazing work ethic, it is no surprise Carolyn went on to complete her apprenticeship to an exceptional standard.  In fact, her work was to such a degree of excellence it was highly commended by the Internal Quality Assurance Lead!  With further plans to develop her management skills, we would like to applaud you Carolyn for your motivated and industrious approach to achieving your goals!

Amy who works at Chester-le-Street Hospital as a healthcare assistant has built up a wealth of experience over the years, but wanted to achieve much more.  Beginning with some trepidation, Amy knew she would require additional support due to her anxiety and also Dyslexia, but nevertheless she remained highly motivated to achieve her targets!  Not only going on to attain a merit grade, the quality of Amy’s evidence was excellent, with one example of providing proof of her thorough knowledge in the form of a 70-page assignment!!  Despite manysetbacks, Amy excelled in her Apprenticeship whilst also providing long-term support for her mother.  Justifiably proud of her achievements, Amy’s qualification has become a ‘stepping-stone’ to her aspiration of becoming a qualified nurse.  With such qualities of empathy and professional care; tonight, Amy, we would like to wish you the very best of luck with your admirable goal.  

Joining the Constabulary as an apprentice, within just months Brittany had secured a permanent role as an assistant to the senior management team.  Whilst excelling at her studies, Brittany also proved that she could meet the demanding, highly confidential requirements of her role with exceptional prowess.  Progressing to the Advanced Apprenticeship, Brittany soon found herself in yet another promoted role as the Executive PA for the Chief Constable’s Office!  Described by her nominator as a ‘shining light’, it is clear to see why Brittany has been chosen for this award.  With such a clear determination to succeed, Brittany is now providing a range of professional support tosenior officers, as well as assisting the Team with the government’s pledge to recruit 20,000 new police officers!  At only 21, Brittany has achieved a phenomenal amount of success and truly deserves this praise and recognition. 

On joining the North East Ambulance Service, Jack’s natural ability shone through and soon he had accepted and ultimately met the challenge of achieving his qualification 6-months earlier than planned!  Quickly developing in his role within the Learning & Development Team, Jack utilised his fantastic IT skills and superb attention to detail to become a pivotal member of the team.  Producing excellent written evidence, Jack met all of the required standards, as well as excelling in leading the set-up for the teaching sessions at Ambulance HQ.  When ‘technical problems’ were encountered Jack was always on-hand to get everything ‘up and running’ and this natural affiliation led to his success in securing a permanent position!  Swiftly settling in, Jack has had a fantastic year with numerous achievements, in which he has used his ability to anticipate problems, providing workable solutions.  And joining us tonight to receive this award, just out of HOSPITAL today!!!  Jack you have shown us what a highly valuable contribution apprentices can provide.

When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Elizabeth, who was just 12 years old, supported her - caring for her at home until her death 2-years later.  Such a tragic event could have had disastrous consequences to the life of a young person, but Elizabeth turned a negative situation into a positive!  It gave her the inspiration and passion to be a carer.  At the age of 16, Elizabeth secured a role as a carer going on to use her own experience to achieve the best results for her residents, despite coping with her personal grief.  Thriving at every opportunity, Elizabeth’s duty of care is second-to-none, whilst at the same time she proved her academic ability too.  Following a recent operation, Elizabeth was determined to sit her exams, which she did – achieving a distinction overall!  But all of this is even more impressive when, at the same time, Elizabeth was applying for guardianship of her sister.  As an exceptional 18 year old young woman who has overcome many challenges, we are sure Elizabeth will continue to be a leading light for years to come!

Lottie has studied via the College’s superb partnership with Vision Training, a company that offers expert training in the Health & Social Care sector.  Lottie is a student who goes above and beyond…  From the start, she showed an eagerness to learn and gain knowledge to provide the best quality care.  Described as an excellent carer and asset to her company, Lottie has excellent communication skills and never fails to demonstrate the most amazing care.  But not only is Lottie a Senior Carer, she is also an Activities Co-ordinator, a Dignity Champion, an Infection Control Officer and a Moving & Handling Trainer!  You may think this would take up most of her time, but outside of working hours Lottie has organised and completed various charity and fund-raising events in support of her Care Home, while still finding time to progress with her studies.  With such an attentive and compassionate nature as well as the drive to provide quality care, it’s no surprise that Lottie’s quest is to become a nurse. Lottie, you are an amazing credit to yourself and the care profession!

Kyall has been a council charge-hand at Durham County Council’s Highways Services since 2015.  Having had some issues with their former training providers, the County Council turned to Derwentside College to meet their high expectations.  Due to these difficulties some of the apprentices’ confidence in the group had been shaken, but Kyall always showed a fortitude and determination to move on and succeed.  Leading from the front, Kyall completed his Occupational Work Supervision qualification, with such a positive outlook, instilling belief in his peers which had a highly positive impact on all!  Tipped to be a leader of the future, Kyall has been described as ‘fantastic’, amiable and well equipped for all aspects of the job, no matter what the complexity!  With a detailed understanding of the skills and knowledge required for his role as a highways operative. 

Determined to succeed and with a keen eye for detail, Bradley’s potential gained him an apprenticeship at McVickers only 4-months into joining the full time programme!  Showing great natural aptitude, Bradley has been described as a model apprentice who has gained significant respect, so much so he was selected to work away from home with McVickers’ commercial team.  Without opportunities for preparation, Bradley was chosen for the ‘Sparks Magazine’ Apprentice of the Year Competition.  Competing against opponents from 10 other colleges, from Hull to Tyneside, Bradley won the regional heat with flying colours!  In the national finals, testing was to the extreme with skills required that equalled the full industry expectations of a qualified electrician!  Bradley secured an amazing 3rd place and this high ranking came with a special mention from the judge, stating Bradley was the most consistent competitor across both regional and national finals.  Now becoming a confident and skilled electrician and achieving the accolade of being one of the top apprentices in the country.

Having moved to England from America part way through his education, Memphis had to adapt quickly to his new environment.  Starting at the College on an ‘Engineer your Future’ course, Memphis excelled in all elements, demonstrating outstanding practical skills.  Having just missed out on an apprenticeship, Memphis tried his hand in Construction, where again he excelled.  Now ready for employment, Memphis undertook a work trial with Otolift Manufacturing and within the week the job was his!  With his impressive work ethic and commitment to quality, Memphis has gone above and beyond expectations.  Always giving 100% and putting forward ideas for improvement, Memphis has become a vital part of the organisation, with his employer stating, “Memphis is an invaluable asset to the Otolift team and the quality of his work is second to none.  Earmarked to be a future team leader; we are sure we will hear a lot more about Memphis in the months to come!