The OCTG News

Apprentice Awards Event - full story, and pictures, from the big night

The venue received plenty of praise and, after an absence of three years, the return of the Group’s ‘flagship’ event on Thursday 6 March was warmly welcomed. But the real stars of the show were the 18 young men honoured for their hard work and achievements at our Apprentice of the Year Awards Evening.

Held at the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel, Sandford-on-Thames and arranged to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week, the function was attended by around 120 employers, guests, apprentices, family members and friends.

OCTG Chairman John Bennett launched proceedings by welcoming everyone -  with special mentions for event sponsors Kingerlee Limited and the representatives of the Construction Industry Training Board, City of Oxford College and ACE Training.

John then introduced the evening’s guest speaker: Geoff Foulkes, a music and TV producer who lives in Oxford and is the son of former Manchester United and England footballer Bill Foulkes.

Geoff told the audience how is father had been an apprentice footballer in the 1950s (while continuing to work as a coal miner in case his playing career failed to flourish), had been one of the original ‘Busby Babes’ (the team of all conquering youngsters put together by Manchester United manager Matt Busby), miraculously survived the Munich Air Disaster of 1958 (which killed eight of his team-mates) and went on to captain the new side to even greater success.

Geoff used old film and slides to illustrate his talk but also drew parallels between his father and the young apprentices in the room by saying: “Like you, my dad was expected to train hard, learn on the job and show real dedication to his chosen craft in an era when footballers were paid a tiny fraction of what they receive today.”

Having been warmly applauded for his talk, Geoff then handed special certificates to the first year apprentices who were in attendance before John Bennett asked him to present the rest of the evening’s awards.

All 18 apprentices who had been nominated stepped forward to receive a certificate of commendation and a cheque for £25. They were, in alphabetical order:

Michael Bone - Boshers (Cholsey) Limited – Carpenter; Josh Chapman - Boshers (Cholsey) Limited – Carpenter;  Calum Cook - John Cook Builders – Carpenter (City of Oxford College); Steve Dennett - BHL Builders (Oxford) Limited – Carpenter; Daniel Duxbury - Boshers (Cholsey) Limited – Painter & Decorator; Jamie Fischer - Carl Dore Brickwork – Bricklayer (ACE Training); Jake Florey - SYMM & Co. – Carpenter; Lee Foster - BHL Builders (Oxford) Limited – Carpenter; Lewis Hopkins - SYMM & Co. Limited – Painter & Decorator; Elliott James - SYMM & Co. – Carpenter; Darren Jeffers - Valley Construction – Bricklayer (City of Oxford College); Zak Lafford - Stuart Barr CDR Limited – Painter & Decorator;      Curtis Roca - Kingerlee Limited – Bench Joiner; Jonathan Stimpson - Kingerlee Limited – Bench Joiner; Josh Pithers - Denton Brickwork - Bricklayer (ACE Training); Robbie Powell - Joe Jonson – Carpenter (ACE Training); Anthony Preston - Maylarch Environmental Limited – Demolition; Tom Walters - Absolute Building Services – General Maintenance (City of Oxford College).

It was then time for the three main awards of the evening - all presented by Geoff Foulkes:

The Merit Award, with a salver and cheque for £50, went to:

CURTIS ROCA (Kingerlee Limited, Bench Joiner) with part of the judging panel’s citation reading: “Curtis can be an inspiration to apprentices everywhere who may sometimes wonder whether it is worth all the effort they are putting in.”

NVQ Level 2, with a Cup and cheque for £100, went to:

MICHAEL BONE  (Boshers (Cholsey) Limited,Carpenter), about whom the judges said: “We have no doubt he will go on to fulfil all his ambitions in the industry.”

NVQ Level 3, with a Cup and cheque to £100, went to:

ZAK LAFFORD  (Stuart Barr CDR Limited, Painter & Decorator) with the juding panel commenting: “It is clear that what gives him most satisfaction is doing a job that delights the client. He is a credit to the industry and to himself.”

All that remained then was to enjoy an excellent buffet, raise a glass to all the apprentices and, perhaps most important of all, vow to stage the event once again in 2015.

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