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Congratulations! Chris Ricketts wins apprentice of the year award

Matt Dobson: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Awards | Company News xx 31179

Congratulations to Chris Ricketts

Wiltshire College’s Manufacturing Craft Technician Apprentice of the Year!

GWP Group is proud to announce that Chris, our apprentice maintenance engineer, was amongst those recognised at Wiltshire College’s prestigious Apprentice of the Year Awards 2014, winning the category of “Manufacturing Craft Technician Apprentice 2014”.

Having won the award, Chris then starred on the BBC Radio Wiltshire Drivetime show last night. Interviewed by presenter Lee Stone, Chris discussed his apprenticeship, the skills he has learned and developed at GWP and his future career goals and aims.

Chris Ricketts apprentice of the year
Chris Ricketts receives his Apprentice of the Year Award at the Wiltshire College prize giving event

Completing the apprenticeship

Having been GWP Group’s first full time apprentice, Chris passed his final set of exams to become a fully-fledged member of the GWP Group maintenance team.

Initially starting an Advanced Apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering back in 2008, Chris almost left the company before being guided by head of maintenance Barry Cuss to complete the course with flying colours.

Over the five years of studying, Chris completed and passed exams including City & Guilds 2800 Machining Level 3, NVQ Level 3 Mechanical Manufacture (Fitting and Assembly), NVQ Level 2 Performing Engineering Operations, Level 3 Diploma Engineering Electrical & Electronic Engineering (2850-35) and finally the City & Guilds 2382 Requirements of BS7671:2008.

Chris commented;

I am very happy that I have now completed and passed my apprenticeship. It has been a tough but very enjoyable past few years. I found the first couple of years quite tough – hence why I didn’t want to continue – but after Barry’s arrival I felt a lot better in the job and felt I could learn a lot from his knowledge and experience.

He added;

I am very glad that the company let me continue my apprenticeship and very thankful to Barry for helping me a lot through the years with building up my skills as an engineering and also with my college work.

Barry Cuss, Head of Maintenance at GWP Group, also said;

Chris had just completed his second year when I Joined GWP. Initially Chris didn’t want to continue his apprenticeship but I’m glad to say Chris changed his mind and stuck with it! I’m proud to have had a part in Chris’s education and GWP’s first apprentice. It’s been good seeing Chris develop as an engineer over the last three years as he worked really hard both at work and college to build his knowledge and skill base.

About the Wiltshire College Accolade

Attending the awards ceremony, held at the Arc Theatre in Trowbridge on 24th September 2014, Chris received his award from acting principal at Wiltshire College, Amanda Burnside.

With over one hundred guests, including the apprentices, their families, friends, employers and staff from Wiltshire College, the annual event again proved a huge success.

The Apprentice
GWP Maintenance Manager Barry Cuss presents Chris Ricketts with his qualifications

As well as the presentation of the awards to the apprentices from across Wiltshire, Jon Little from Wessex Water gave a speech on the company’s experience of apprenticeships and how beneficial they can be both for the apprentices themselves and for businesses both large and small.

Radio Star

Having just been crowned Apprentice of the Year 2014, Chris then starred on the BBC Radio Wiltshire Drivetime show (Follow the link below to listen to the interview).

Interviewed by presenter Lee Stone, Chris spoke not only about his apprenticeship and future career goals and aims, but also the upcoming final of the popular BBC show The Apprentice.

With GWP having featured on BBC Radio previously, when running a competition in conjunction with Swindon College and the Foodbank charity, it helps to underline GWPs’ commitment to developing young people and identifying the right people to help the growth of the business.

If you would like to listen to the radio interview, please click here.

Chris was quoted as saying;

It’s really nice to be recognised for all the hard work and effort I have put in over the past five years to complete my apprenticeship. I’m really pleased to have won. GWP have been great. I wouldn’t have been able to fund the expensive courses or get the certificates I need to further my career by myself. Without GWP giving me the opportunity to serve my apprenticeship I don’t know where I would be and I doubt I would have ever won the award.

Ruth Cook, Managing Director at GWP Group, also said;

We are very pleased that Chris’ hard work at GWP has been recognised. He demonstrates that with a positive attitude and the right support anything is possible. Everyone at GWP is really proud of him and we continue to support him in his professional development.

Looking to the future

Despite the shaky start, Chris is now certain that he made the right decision in continuing the course and his career at GWP.

Barry Cuss added;

Over the years I’ve helped many apprentices but being directly responsible for Chris has been a good experience for me and one I would like to repeat. You never know, one day Chris may end up being the ‘old hand’ helping the next generation. My advice to Chris now is to continue working hard at building his abilities and understanding because as an engineer you will never stop learning.

Apprenticeships in Wiltshire

Over the past twelve months, Wiltshire College has placed and supported more than one thousand apprentices across the county, with over six hundred employers and across more than forty areas of study.

With increasing awareness and support for apprenticeships across the country, the aim is to increase this figure over the coming years.

Wiltshire college

Wiltshire College’s business training and development arm works hand in hand with apprentices to aid them in finding and starting apprenticeships. It also focuses on local employers by supporting them to recognise the benefits of apprenticeships and develop apprenticeship vacancies within their businesses.

David Murley, Business Development Director at Wiltshire College, said;

Apprenticeships are becoming recognised more and more as a good alternative to full time study, either at college or sixth form. There is an increasing demand for young, skilled and qualified workers in a multitude of industries, and I am delighted to be part of the team here at Wiltshire College that supports local young people into those opportunities.

GWP & developing young people

Chris is now looking to the future and is hoping to embark upon some new courses in order to be qualified to do all aspects of his job. However, GWP are always looking at ways to develop all staff and to identify the people to carry the company forward.

As a result, GWP partnered with engineering students at Swindon College, tasking them with creating a logistical solution for use at the Swindon Foodbanks warehouse in Westlea. The outcome of this saw the winning design manufactured by GWP, and is still in use at the Foodbank today.

Besides this, GWP are also looking to forge ties with the UTC (University Technical College) that has recently opened in Swindon. This is coupled with the ongoing potential for apprenticeships throughout the business and its’ operations.

Opportunities at GWP Group

GWP Group is always looking for the right people to join its’ team, and recognises the importance of developing young people within the workplace.

With a mixture of full time vacancies currently available, plus being receptive to new opportunities for apprentices in key areas of our business, the importance of getting the right mix of employees and creating a rewarding working environment is fully understood.

For a list of current full time vacancies, or to contact GWP to ask about any potential apprenticeships, please click here or get in touch.

Find out more...

For further information on everything happening at GWP, including the eduictaion and apprenticeship programmes we run, please visit the News section of our website. Alternatively, please visit the careers section of our site to see our current vacancies.

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About the Author

Matt Dobson

Marketing Manager | GWP Group

Matt has worked in the packaging industry for approximately 9 years, having joined GWP Group as Marketing Executive in 2012. [Read full bio…]

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