Success for WCG apprentices at Coventry awards


L-R: Master of the Guild, Steven Morson, Lord Mayor, Cllr Lindsley Harvard, Ella Jackson, Christopher James, Shannon Lynch, Dave Moorcroft OBE

WCG apprentices dominated the City of Coventry Freemen’s Guild Apprenticeship Awards, with Ella Jackson, Shannon Lynch and Christopher James picking up the three top awards.

The Guild Apprentice of the Year is held annually to recognise the region’s best young apprentices. The Guild, which dates back to the fourteenth century, is the only one in the country to make being a recognised apprentice a condition of membership.

The Guild is keen to promote the achievements of young people and particularly the need for apprentices in all professions to ensure Coventry remains a prosperous and dynamic city. The event was held in the historic St Mary’s Guildhall and the prizes were presented by The Master of the City of Coventry Freemen’s Guild, Steven Morson, and the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Cllr Lindsley Harvard. The guest speaker at the event was Dave Moorcroft OBE, former world record holder for the 5,000 metres.

Ella Jackson won the Apprentice of the Year for a small or medium size employer. Ella, 20, from Long Marston, has recently completed her Level 2 Business Administration apprenticeship with Robert Welch Designs Ltd in Chipping Campden and has progressed onto Level 3.

As the first ever apprentice with Robert Welch, Ella has felt an added responsibility to make it work and has taken on a range of responsibilities including running workshops and representing the company at trade shows. It is a testament to her success that three different areas of the business all pitched to offer her a permanent role within the company, deciding to take the job of Operations Assistant. She has also presented to her board of directors about the value of apprenticeships.

Ella said, “I was shocked when my name was read out because the others were such strong candidates, but I was mega happy and proud of myself! I was really pleased that my hard work and passion for my apprenticeship had been recognised by the Coventry Freemen’s Guild. I used to compete in a lot of sports and won a few awards and trophies in football and athletics when I was younger, so it was rewarding to win a different type of award which really signifies my motivation to succeed in my career.

“An apprenticeship appealed to me as I really enjoy working, and it meant I could earn my own money but also continue with qualifications at the same time and potentially progress to Degree level. I saw it as an opportunity to develop and progress my skills and apply them to real business situations, where my hard work and achievements would be recognised within the company – as they have been!”

Alice Welch, Deputy Managing Director at Robert Welch said, “We couldn’t be prouder of Ella’s achievements here at Robert Welch Designs. The apprenticeship scheme has given both the company and Ella the chance to craft a bespoke training schedule and to ensure that she has had the chance to experience each part of the business in depth. This kind of experience is invaluable for Ella as an employee and us as a business. Ella is now a full time member of the Robert Welch team and works within the Operations department.”

David Wallace, Careers Manager at Stratford-upon-Avon School, Ella’s former school said, “It is important that Sixth Formers are aware of alternatives to the University route, and supported to weigh up their options.

“An apprenticeship now is very different from the old days of £25 a week and making tea all day. It brings good training, a great qualification and the potential to move on to higher qualifications, supported by the employer.

“Ella has clearly excelled in a world class local company – congratulations.”

Shannon Lynch won the award for Apprentice of the Year for a Large Company. Shannon, 21, is an engineering apprentice with Jaguar Land Rover and achieved a distinction in her Foundation Degree in Engineering at Warwick Trident College. She has gone straight to the second year of an Applied Engineering degree at Warwick University.

Shannon’s outstanding skills and abilities mean that she works with a high level of autonomy, completing projects that have significantly contributed to the efficiency of the organisation. She also visits schools to educate students about alternative routes to university and has developed a practical engineering activity for 11 to 16 year olds to inspire them to look at STEM subjects, particularly engineering.

The Endeavour Award is is a discretionary award for exceptional achievement for a person who has overcome a significant life challenge, but despite this has achieved success within their apprenticeship.

The winner, Christopher James, 23, has just completed a three year Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering Manufacture with The Manufacturing Technology Centre and has already been offered a permanent role at the High Temperature Research Centre, where he will aid research using techniques like additive manufacturing which will play a large part in future engineering processes. He is currently undertaking an HNC Level 4 in Mechanical Engineering, and hopes to continue his learning afterwards by undertaking a degree.

Chris is highly committed to helping other apprentice and is a STEM Ambassador and has visited schools to support STEM events. This is all despite the fact that only four years ago Chris didn’t want to leave the house as he has an acute anxiety condition.  Even now the day to day things are a huge challenge to him but with support and counselling, Chris has learnt a variety of techniques that help him to cope and succeed in the workplace.

The two Apprentices of the Year each receiving a certificate, trophy and cheque for £1000, with the Endeavour Award winner receiving a certificate, trophy and cheque for £100.

WCG offers a range of apprenticeships at all levels. For more information, go to or call 0300 456 0049.

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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