An award winning butcher and a multi skilled free range egg producer were among the ‘stars’ to take top honours at an apprenticeship awards ceremony held at Reaseheath College in Nantwich.

The event to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (February 3 – 7) highlighted the achievement of land based apprentices who had gained their qualifications at the specialist and technical college.

Reaseheath is one of the country’s leading apprentice trainers and also provides a valuable recruitment service for employers. Together with Dart Training in Derbyshire, the college currently trains over 1500 apprentices in land based industries and works in partnership with hundreds of large, medium and small employers. An impressive 97% of apprentices achieve their qualification and continue into permanent roles.

At the awards Jason Edwards, a Level 2 butchery apprentice who works for The Hollies Farm Shop in Lower Stretton took the title of Intermediate Apprentice of the Year while Aaron Sands, a Level 3 agricultural apprentice employed by Paces Farm Eggs, Congleton, was crowned Advanced Apprentice of the Year.

Jason, 25, was also a medal winner at the WorldSkills UK national butchery finals and is now training for the World Butchers’ Challenge in California. He has been in the trade for two years and plans eventually to progress into management.

He said: “This has been an amazing year for me. Butchery is a great career for young people, particularly if you like being active and creating things with your hands.”

Jason’s boss, Butchery Manager Kevin Haysted, said: “Apprenticeships offer a step by step process of learning which is very logical and can be applied immediately in the workplace. It’s a good way of training someone like Jason, who really wants to learn and has great potential.”

Despite having no previous experience in agriculture, advanced winner Aaron has acquired a high level of skills during his apprenticeship and now manages Pace’s poultry flock.

His employer Steven Pace commented: “Reaseheath’s training has equipped Aaron with the knowledge, skills and confidence to fulfil his professional role. Having a keen apprentice has been a great help to our business, as we’ve been able to match our exact needs with the training programme.”

Other titles went to:

  • Best Level 2 Agricultural Apprentice: Andrew Hill, 19, a herdsperson on a dairy farm in Leek and has now progressed onto a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Agriculture
  • Best Level 3 Agricultural Apprentice: James Colclough, 20, a dairy farm assistant who is looking forward to taking on more responsibility and hopes eventually to manage the family farm in Sandbach
  • Best Horticulture Apprentice: Tom Roberts, a grounds maintenance operative with Wright Landscapes who was part of Wright’s show garden team at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park
  • Best Vehicle Parts Apprentice: Nathan Cheshire, 20, a warehouse supervisor with HGV Direct in Ashbourne, Derbyshire
  • Best Engineering Apprentice: George Poole, who works for Bombardier Transportation in Crewe. George, 18, has progressed onto his Level 3 advanced apprenticeship. He lives in Middlewich

Special Awards:

  • Best Functional Skills Achievement: Reece Turnock, 20, a plant fitter with Scott’s Hire Ltd
  • Certificate for Excellence: Edward Foster-Johnson, a Level 3 agricultural apprentice on a 1000 acre arable farm in Litchfield, Staffordshire
  • Outstanding Effort: Latisha Woolley, 25, from Crewe, who completed her Level 2 horticultural apprenticeship while a trainee greenkeeper at Malkins Bank Golf Course, Sandbach. She now works for Queens Park Golf Course in Crewe
  • Apprenticeship Employer of the Year: APS Group, the UK’s leading supplier of British tomatoes to major retailers and to high street shops. The award was accepted by Gary Swayne, Group Safety Health and Environment Manager

Guest speaker was John Myers, Head of Account Management for the National Apprenticeship Service.