Outstanding apprentices and students in the UK nuclear industry were announced at the second annual UK Nuclear Skills Awards Evening in Manchester, organised by the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and Cogent Sector Skills Council in February.

The event was attended by over 300 nuclear employers, training providers and key stakeholders who came together to celebrate the success and high calibre of the learners nominated for awards.

Victoria Martin and Charles Pickford

Victoria Martin, Foundation Degree Student of the Year, accepting her award from Charles Pickford from Foundation Degree Forward

The awards started with the National Nuclear Foundation Degree Student of the Year.  The winner, Victoria Martin, who studied at Lakes College, currently works for Sellafield Ltd as a Safety Advisor.  Originally joining the organisation as an Administrative Officer, Victoria’s proactive approach to her own personal development has ensured her career development through Health Physics Monitor and Technical Support Officer to her present role.

Martin was one of the first cohort to enrol onto the new Foundation Degree in Nuclear Decommissioning. Not having an engineering or scientific background did not hold Martin back in her studies, with her achieving the highest mark in her class.  Martin completed her course part-time, which enabled her to continue working full-time to support her young family.

Michael Macaulay and Craig Lockheart

Michael Macaulay accepts his award for HND Student of the Year from Craig Lockheart from Babcock Marine at Clyde

The Scottish HND Student of the Year award was presented to Michael Macaulay who works for DSRL as a Mechanical Technician.  Macaulay completed his studies at North Highland College.  Following on from his year of Foundation Training, Macaulay decided at an early stage that he wanted to achieve more than his HNC and attended extra evening classes to achieve additional units towards his HND.  This hard work and dedication came to fruition in September 2009, when he achieved his HND in Mechanical Engineering.  Michael is described by his employers as an excellent worker with a high level of self motivation.

Suzette Middleton and Nigel Couzens

Suzette Middleton, Bursary Student of the Year, accepting her award from Nigel Couzens – NDA

A new award was added to this year’s event, Bursary Student of the Year.  This category relates to the students who have benefitted from a NDA-funded bursary via the Skills Academy.  This award went to Suzette Middleton, who completed a foundation Degree in ICT at Lakes College. Middleton won the award due to her drive and commitment to learning and self improvement which helped her to overcome a range of difficulties which she encountered as a mature student. Middleton admits that she has gained confidence and self belief through her studies. 

The Apprentice Awards were divided into regions. The regional apprentice of the year winners were;

Marc Owen Jones and John Idris Jones

Marc Owen Jones, Nuclear Apprentice of the Year- Wales, accepting his award from John Idris Jones of Magnox North

Wales – Marc Jones – Magnox North

Marc currently works as a Production Technician at Wylfa.  During his apprenticeship, Marc was the lead instrument apprentice during the commissioning of the Flow Loop Simulator.

Nathan Mackay and Jim Hall

Nathan Mackay, Scotland Nuclear Apprentice of the Year, accepting his award from Jim Hall of URS

Scotland – Nathan Mackay – Rolls Royce

Nathan currently works as an Instrument Technician and has set a new record for Rolls Royce by completing his four year Apprenticeship in 3 years and 1 month thanks to the new flexible framework.  He is also an active STEM Ambassador.

Lewis Rush and Charlie Bray

Lewis Rush, Southwest Regional Nuclear Apprentice of the Year, and UK Nuclear Apprentice of the Year, accepting his award from Charlie Bray on behalf of British Energy

Southwest – Lewis Rush – British Energy part of EDF Energy, provider Bridgwater College

Rush is member of the instrumentation team at Hinckley Point B performing a wide variety of tasks from planned maintenance to defect reduction.  Achieving instrument technician status 4 months early, Lewis has helped to raise the standards within his team. 

Justin Woodley and Robert Davies

Justin Woodley, Southeast/East Nuclear Apprentice of the Year, accepts his award from Robert Davies of Areva

Southeast/East – Justin Woodley- AWE

Woodley is currently in the final year as an electronics apprentice with AWE.

Anna Mawson and Neil Crewdson

Anna Mawson, Nuclear Apprentice of the Year Northwest/Northeast, accepting her award from Neil Crewdson (Nuclear Institute NW, NE and Cumbrian Branches)

Northwest/Northeast – Anna Mawson-Sellafield, provider GEN II

Mawson currently works as an Electrical and Instrumentation Craftsperson at Sellafield.  Her development within the Craft Team has also seen her take on the Safety Representative Role, along with taking on the responsibility of being a mentor to the remaining apprentices within her team.

All of the Regional Apprentice of the Year winners were put forward for the title of UK Nuclear Apprentice of the Year.  The national winner selected was Lewis Rush of British Energy, part of EDF Energy.

Roland Fletcher, Apprenticeship Manager, National Skills Academy Nuclear said:

“Rush displayed a real excitement about his apprenticeship and it was excellent to see how he was using the skills and knowledge acquired during his apprenticeship to develop real solutions that will help his employer to operate more efficiently and safely.

The Panel were extremely impressed by his willingness to learn, keenness to help support and motivate younger apprentices, his passion for his chosen trade and enthusiasm for really wanting to embed and grow his skills on his current job to gain more experience and learn more about the Operation of Hinkley Point B Power Station.”

Ian Williams and Graham Campbell

Ian Williams, Cogent Award for Outstanding Leadership in Skills, accepting his award from Graham Campbell (Nuclear Management Partners)

The evening also highlighted the hard work of people working to raise the skills levels within their own organisations, and for the sector itself.  The Cogent award for Outstanding Leadership in Skills was awarded to Ian Williams from British Energy – part of EDF Energy.

Under Williams’ stewardship, in just over 2 years, its residential apprenticeship programme has increased from a few apprentices to over 106, and it is projected to grow by over 50% this year. Williams  provides 24/7 support for the apprentices, their parents and the BE Stations.  He runs a wide ranging scheme which includes elements of NVQs, Foundation Degrees, and even the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.   

Jean Llewellyn, Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear said:

“The UK Nuclear Skills Awards highlights the exceptional quality of vocational learners, who are committed to careers in the nuclear sector.   Apprenticeships and Foundation Degrees/HNDs are key avenues for replenishing and building skills for the nuclear sector.  It is extremely important to highlight the real and tangible contributions which these students make to their organisations on a daily basis.”

Cogent CEO, Joanna Woolf congratulated all the finalists and winners:

“The breadth and depth of applications is testament to an industry that values and invests in talent and understands the importance of the people within it. Recognising individuals through awards such as this is a great way to celebrate that success.”

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