10 Mar 2015

Awards shine a light on city’s top apprentices and employers

Caption: L-R Ryan Donnelly, 24, and Xena Daniels, 17, who won the Against All Odds awards at last night's Leeds Apprenticeship Awards.

Two apprentices who have triumphed in the face of adversity were praised last night at the prestigious Leeds Apprenticeship Awards.

Xena Daniels, 17, and Ryan Donnelly, 24, were the two recipients of the Against All Odds awards at last night’s ceremony held at Leeds Civic Hall.

The category is aimed at recognising those who have overcome barriers to employment in order to excel within their apprenticeship.

Xena, a beauty therapy apprentice working at Leeds-based Peaches and Cream salon, was called “the most dedicated student we have ever had” by her training provider the Yorkshire College of Beauty Therapy.

Attending college every week despite suffering a broken leg, Xena’s persistence and determination were also praised by the judges.

Ryan, an engineering manufacturing apprentice working at Sulzer Pumps, coped with difficult personal circumstances throughout his apprenticeship.

Judges called him “a great example of someone who continues to get back up after each knock that life sends their way.”

As well as Xena and Ryan, awards were given to the Apprentice of the Year in the intermediate, advanced and higher categories.

Olivia Hall, 18, was the winner in the intermediate category for her work as a construction apprentice with Leeds City Council.

Chris Blackburn, 21, a construction and built environment apprentice with WSPO was called a “passionate and inspirational person” by judges who named him Apprentice of the Year in the advanced category.

And 27-year-old John Thomas Legge, a sustainable built environment apprentice with NG Bailey, was awarded Apprentice of the Year in the higher category.

The night was also about recognising employers investing in skills by taking on apprentices, with awards given out for Employer of the Year in the small, medium and large categories.

Bellissima Exclusive Ltd, whose entire workforce is made up of current or former apprentices, won Small Employer of the Year.

Medium Employer of the Year went to Connect Housing, who were praised for their commitment to taking on even more apprentices in future.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust was named Large Employer of the Year for their innovative approach to developing apprenticeship vacancies.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, who attended the awards, said:

“This has been another memorable evening that has given us a chance to shine a light on the outstanding dedication, passion and commitment of our apprentices and their employers.

“Apprentices are now firmly established as an integral part of the Leeds workforce and have played a crucial role in some of the city’s biggest developments in recent years.

“They’re making a real, tangible impact on the local economy and it’s a privilege to help honour some of those who have gone above and beyond.

“I’d like to personally congratulate all of our winners and I hope their example will inspire other jobseekers and employers both now and in the future.”

The awards coincide with National Apprenticeship Week, which will see two apprenticeship fairs take place, organised by the Leeds Apprenticeship Hub.

The first will take place at the Hope Mega Centre on York Road on March 12 from 10am-1pm.

The second will be at Armley Leisure Centre the next day on March 13, and will also be from 10am-1pm.

Both events will have multiple live apprenticeship vacancies on show and will include information, advice and guidance areas, offering support about how to apply and the chance to ask questions.

Appointments are not needed and anyone interested can just turn up on the day.

Local firms involved in the awards and the opportunities fairs include The Test People, One Subsea, Addleshaw Goddard, BAE Systems, Drive Computer Services Ltd, the Bigword, Harvey Nichols and Zenith Chambers.

Apprenticeships are available in 1,500 jobs covering 170 sectors including admin, law, accountancy, construction, engineering and health and social care.

They offer the chance to earn while you learn across a wide range of job roles through a mix of on and off-the-job training and can offer another route to gaining a university qualification.

Leeds usually has more than 200 live vacancies at any one time.

For more information on apprenticeships, visit www.leedspathways.org.uk or telephone the Leeds Apprenticeship Hub on 07712 214 916.

Alternatively, email leeds.apprenticeship.hub@leeds.gov.uk


Additional information on apprenticeship levels:


Known as

Equivalent to


Intermediate Level Apprenticeship



Advanced Level Apprenticeship



Higher Apprenticeship

Certificate of Higher Education


Higher Apprenticeship

Foundation Degree


Higher Apprenticeship

Bachelor's Degree


Higher Apprenticeship

Master's Degree

More details can be found at:

Stuart Robinson

Communications Officer

Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 224 3937

Email: stuart.robinson@leeds.gov.uk


Contact information

Leeds City Council Communications team