Star workers are shining so bright
HARD-WORKING young apprentices have been recognised for their achievements.
Newcastle social housing group Aspire held its second annual apprentice awards yesterday at the Britannia Stadium after a key supplier event which was attended by dozens of firms.
Seven companies sponsored an award and there was also an overall 'Shining Star' category for the best overall achiever.
Steve Ellis, who picked up the Tidysite Skip Services award, is an horticultural apprentice in the homeworks team at Shelton-based PM Training, part of Aspire.
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The 19-year-old, of Abbey Hulton, said: "I would definitely recommend becoming an apprentice. It's really helped me out.
"You're doing stuff all the time, it's hands-on rather than sitting in a classroom."
Greg Copeland, aged 19, of Tunstall, who is an apprentice at Holdcroft Heating and Gas Fitting in Burslem, won the Carson Powell Construction award.
He said: "I didn't expect to win so I'm very proud. The good thing about doing an apprenticeship is it's not just theory, you've got the physical aspect as well.
"It is hard work but it's worth it if you're willing to put the work in."
Gemma Binns, a business administration apprentice at Moorlands Housing, in Leek, won the UX Energy Services award.
The 17-year-old, of Waterhouses, said: "After school, I went to Leek College to do hairdressing but I quit because I found it boring.
"I don't like sitting around, I'd rather be doing something, which is why the apprenticeship is good for me."
The other winners were Callum Whitfield, aged 19, of Lightwood, Demme Nixon, aged 17, of Baddeley Green, and Greg Maxfield, aged 20, of Kidsgrove, who won awards sponsored by Phase 2 Electrical Engineers, Broad Oak and Motiva Group respectively.
In total, 29 youngsters were nominated for the awards, which were handed out by Baddeley Green-born entertainer Jonny Wilkes.
He said: "It really is a pleasure and an honour to be here.
"Everyone who knows me knows Stoke-on-Trent is my whole life and I love the people here, but sometimes we give ourselves too much of a hard time.
"We are not the most glamorous city but we have got the biggest heart and being here makes me realise how important it is to give young people a start in life.
"What I would say to all the apprentices is don't stop here, keep going, you can have whatever you want if you work hard enough for it."
Aspire, which is based in Newcastle and employs 600 people, turns over £40 million. As well as its social housing division, it includes a social enterprise arm called Enterprising Futures and its regeneration charity, the Realise Foundation.
Chief executive Sinead Butters said: "So far, the Realise Foundation has invested £700,000 in projects including subsidising apprentices. We are trying to create an environment where companies can't say no to taking on a young person."