Former Army Sergeant picks up ‘Apprentice of the Year’ accolade at college awards

9 March 2017

A former British Army Sergeant scooped the top prize at Easton & Otleys awards ceremony relating to Apprenticeships this week.

Amy McCormack from Hadleigh in Suffolk received the Apprentice of the Year award at a ceremony held at the Brome Grange near Diss on behalf of Easton and Otley College.

This was the first ever ceremony that the college has hosted specifically on behalf of Apprenticeship qualifications and it took place during a campaign known as National Apprenticeship Week.

A total of 19 awards were handed out relating to top performing students and employers and the occasion was hosted by Vice Principal of the college, Malcolm Ferguson. Mr Ferguson congratulated and thanked everyone for coming along to this event. Craig Thompson (the current Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year) then said a few words on the value of Apprenticeships in terms of his progression.

A special award was also handed out to 28 year old Tom Parkhurst. Tom was an apprentice with Easton and Otley over a decade ago and received the ‘Apprenticeship Ambassador of the Year’ award. After completing his qualification he went on to become one of the youngest landlords in the country when he took over The Four Horseshoes pub in Thornham Magna at the age of 19. Since then, he has subsequently supported 20 apprentices himself, worked with Claire Young (former contestant of The TV show The Apprentice) as an ambassador and even travelled to Buckingham Palace to meet Prince Andrew who thanked Tom for his efforts in promoting these qualifications.

The overall winner (Amy McCormack) used to work in the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME) and went from working with Apache helicopters to horticulture. Having left the forces after 15 years of service, Amy now works as head gardener at Kentwell Hall in Long Melford.

Amy said, “I am thrilled. I wasn’t expecting this. Sometimes you have to believe in yourself and good things will happen. The support from the college has been great. They have given me everything I need and more. Apprenticeships have been great for me as well. You learn both academically and physically. You can be any age and change career and be successful. I’m really happy and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the college and my employer.”

Steve Race from the college has supported Amy. He said, “She is my star Apprentice and deserves this award. Amy is now supporting another younger student (at Kentwell Hall) and it has gone really well for her. She has worked hard at it and deserves the success. I am so proud of her.”

Head of employer engagement at the college, Louise Wicks, said, “It was great to be able to celebrate the success of the Apprentices we work with and the businesses who support them. The value of these qualifications cannot be underestimated and they offer a genuine alternative to other more ‘traditional’ educational routes such as A-levels and university. It was a lovely event that had genuine moments of emotion. One mother (of a winner) travelled all the way to be at the event from Lancashire to see her son pick up an award. This may have been the first time we have done this but it definitely won’t be the last.”

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