Outstanding plumbing apprentice Zoe Watson was delighted to win top prize for Nescot College at the Surrey County Apprentices Awards on Monday September 7 in Kingston.
The talented youngster beat top apprentices from across the county to scoop the prestigious John Coleman Trophy as overall winner of this year’s competition.
Zoe, 23, who has impressed employers Smith and Byford with her determination, strong work ethic and attention to detail, was thrilled to be named overall winner, saying, ‘This is amazing, I feel like a celebrity!’
While many may remark on the choice of plumbing as a career for a young woman, Zoe’s employers were keen to stress that her nomination was based on her outstanding work rather than her gender. In a supporting statement for the nomination a Smith and Byford engineer was quoted as saying, ‘In all the years I’ve been in this industry, she’s the first female apprentice I’ve had and by far the best apprentice to work with.’
The award comes after a year of well deserved success for Zoe, which also saw her shine in World Skills masterclasses in February. Judges were particularly impressed by Zoe’s determination to succeed in plumbing despite numerous setbacks in her training, before gaining a place with Smith and Byford.
The John Coleman Trophy, awarded to Zoe, is reserved for apprentices who demonstrate creativity and drive, as well as excellent practical ability.
Nescot carpentry apprentices Nick Furniaux and Damien Knight were also recognised on the night with Damien winning a certificate in recognition of his skills and hard work and Nick making a speech on the benefits of the apprenticeship scheme.
The Surrey County Apprentice Awards Scheme, which is administered by Guildford-based Engineering and Science career promoters SETPOINT Surrey, aims to raise the skill levels and improve the qualifications of construction and engineering students.
The top apprentices drawn from the four Surrey further education colleges (Brooklands, Nescot, Guildford and East Surrey) compete for the trophy, certificates and cash prizes of £250.