HARDWORKING apprentices were honoured in an award ceremony at Weymouth College as National Apprenticeship Week drew to a close.

More than 50 business leaders joined South Dorset MP Richard Drax to present the apprentice of the year award along with recognising the achievement of 13 others in specialised sectors ranging from childcare to carpentry.

Prior to the ceremony, the Weymouth College apprenticeship team joined Mr Drax, principal Nigel Evans, and chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce Ian Girling for a business breakfast to discuss the apprenticeship levy and continued commitment to training in Dorset.

Addressing the breakfast Mr Drax said: “Providing our young people with the best start to get on in life and have a rewarding career is an area close to my heart.

“Apprenticeships not only give young people the opportunity to learn a valuable skill whilst earning at the same time, they can also actively raise the productivity of the businesses they join.

“It is fantastic that locally there have been just over 2,000 apprenticeship starts in the year 2015 to16 as compared to just 750 ten years ago.”

After a quick turnaround in the college’s Hix Academy, founder of JD Wetherspoons Tim Martin joined employers, family and the apprentices the for the annual awards.

Mr Martin told the audience that after studying for a law degree he effectively took a three-year apprenticeship in pubs.

He said: “If you’re good at the academic side, it’s great but it’s overemphasised in our society.”

He joined the college’s head of apprenticeship Andrew Johnson announce the apprentice of the year in the varied categories of childcare, engineering, sports, plumbing, business, healthcare, carpentry, motors, catering, hairdressing, customer service, IT and electrical.

Mr Johnson said: “The comments we received from our employers in nominating these outstanding apprentices bears testament to the hard work our apprentices are putting in to their chosen careers and also to the importance local employers place on the apprenticeship scheme in training the next generation of Dorset employees.”

The final Weymouth College Apprentice of the Year 2017 award was then presented to Jessica Burgoyne by Mr Drax for her work as a childcare apprentice at Bincombe Valley Primary School.

Deputy head Annette Cobb said: “Jessica’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious and her cheerful nature and positive outlook are always evident.

"Her self-belief has grown considerably over the course of the year. It is absolutely fantastic to have a member of staff, who so early in her career, is making such a big difference.”

The Weymouth College Apprentice of the Year Award winners:
Childcare Apprentice of the year and Weymouth College Apprentice of the Year 2017
Jessica Burgoyne, Bincombe Valley Primary School

Engineering Apprentice of the year 2017 
Michael Denning, PGT Ceewrite, Weymouth

Sport Apprentice of the year 2017
Ross Watson, New Body Fitness, Bridport

Plumbing Apprentice of the year 2017
Morgan Kitton, G R Edwardes Ltd, Bridport

Business, Management and IT Apprentice of the year 2017
Milli Threadwell, Agincare, Weymouth

Health & Social Care Apprentice of the year 2017
Mariane Cole, Darwin Care, Weymouth

Carpentry & Joinery Apprentice of the year 2017
Liam Tewkesbury, East Boro Housing Trust, Weymouth

Motor Vehicle Apprentice of the year 2017
Lee Sawyer, Buckland Newton Hire Ltd

Catering Apprentice of the year 2017
Chad Walker, The Martyrs Inn, Tolpuddle 

Hairdressing Apprentice of the year 2017
Blade McKechnie, John Edwards Dorchester

Customer Service Apprentice of the year 2017
Bethany Russell, Chalbury Food & Wine Weymouth

Business, Management and IT Apprentice of the year 2017
Bethany Alderman, ATLAS ELECTRONIK, Winfrith

Electrical Apprentice of the year 2017
Zac Bentley, Spectrum Property Care, Poole