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The Corporation

Posted: 08/07/22

College apprentices take top business awards

West Nottinghamshire College is celebrating a quadruple of award successes – after four students and apprentices scooped prestigious business accolades.

  • Vice-principal Louise Knott (left) and principal Andrew Cropley (right) celebrate with (from left) highly-commended Thomas Kingston, finalists Shaun Morley and Caitlin Street, highly-commended Freya Roberts and joint winner Frank Hemingray.
  • Apprentice of the Year finalists proudly display their certificates and trophies, joined by college principal and chief executive Andrew Cropely (back, centre).
  • Principal and chief executive Andrew Cropely (centre) and Coun Matthew Relf, from Ashfield District Council (right) celebrate with (from left) Frank Hemingray, Freya Roberts and Thomas Kingston.
  • Apprentice of the Year joint winner Frank Hemingray takes to the stage.
  • Frank Hemingray proudly receives his certificate and trophy in recognition of his achievements.
  • Highly commended Thomas Kingston shows off his certificate and trophy, joined by Kelly Kelham of Mansfield 103.2.
  • Joint winner Asha Farrell (left), who was unable to attend the awards, was later presented with her accolade from Mansfield and Ashfield 2020 chair Jane Box.

Asha Farrell and Frank Hemingray were named as joint winners of the Apprentice of the Year category at this year’s Mansfield and Ashfield 2020 Business Awards, while both Freya Roberts and Thomas Kingston were highly commended.

Eighteen-year-old Asha has gone from a Level 3 Business Administrator apprenticeship to launching her own business in less than 18 months – using the skills she learned as an apprentice, especially utilising the power of social media.

She began her apprenticeship at The Sweet Café, in Hucknall, in October 2020 and immediately proved to be an invaluable member of the team – even passing on the skills she was learning at college such as cashflow forecasting. Asha also set up the business’s first social media channels, creating a strong brand presence. 

The teenager has grown so much in confidence, she has now set up her own café and is the proud owner of The Greenhouse, in Eastwood, demonstrating true entrepreneurial drive. 

Meanwhile, Frank has cemented a proud record of achievement at Plastek UK – the Mansfield-based plastic fabrication company he joined in 2020 to continue a four-year apprenticeship as a junior maintenance engineer. 

The course is very demanding and requires a lot of dedication, both in academic learning and on-the-job training. Yet Frank, who studies HND Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the college, has continuously demonstrated his commitment to the job, and has exceeded his employer’s expectations time and again, describing him as “fast becoming an integral member of the Plastek UK engineering team.”

Bosses say the 23-year-old has clearly demonstrated his skills and talent by taking ownership of a new machine integration plan, working closely with experienced engineers, including writing work instructions and maintenance plans and the development and delivery of training to other members of staff.   

Level 3 business administrator Freya was nominated by her employer, Hucknall-based commercial and industrial heating company Matro Ltd, for her tremendous work ethic. As their confidence in her abilities continued to grow, they were able to give her more responsibility – and she has handled every task with maturity. 

Matro recently moved offices and seventeen-year-old Freya was put in charge of managing the office move, including the layout of furniture and liaising with telephone engineers, which her bosses say she performed extremely well. 

Thomas, a level 2 accounts apprentice at Kirkby-in-Ashfield accountancy firm Killicks Ltd, has demonstrated a fantastic work ethic and has proven that he is a very resilient individual. The 19-year-old has Asperger’s but despite his difficulties with social interaction, he has overcome this to greet clients at the front desk, which can be a daunting task for anyone. 

Thomas has shown dedication to all of his learning, and to helping his peers and colleagues with their learning too. He is regarded as a real asset to his company. 

Hosted by the influential business networking group, the 16th annual awards, on Friday 24 June, was attended by 230 people, who gathered at the John Fretwell Sporting Complex, Sookholme, Mansfield, to celebrate the achievements of businesses and their staff, and toast the winners and highly-commended recipients across 10 categories.

Louise Knott, vice-principal for communications, engagement and student experience at the college, said: “We are absolutely delighted that both of the winners for the Apprentice of the Year are from the college. Both Asha and Frank demonstrate perfectly the impact that an apprenticeship can have, not only on a business, but on the confidence and success of the young people themselves.

“As a college we are very proud to be part of an event that celebrates the very best that Mansfield and Ashfield have to offer including the very important contribution that young people make.”

Ella McManus, operations Director at Mansfield and Ashfield 2020,  said: “The evening was a chance to show off what people in Ashfield and Mansfield can do, and are doing, to put the area on the map for all the right reasons. Well done, not only to the winners, but also to the finalists.”