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Trainee mechanic Helen named best apprentice in the country

A Bridlington Informer News Item from - Visit Bridlington Informer

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A trainee mechanic at East Riding of Yorkshire Council has been named the best apprentice in the country at a national awards ceremony.

Helen Fordon was presented with the prestigious APSE Transport and Vehicle Maintenance Apprentice of the Year award after impressing the judges with her skills and enthusiasm.

Helen, from West Hull, is only the second female vehicle technician to work for the council, but she is the first of its apprentices to scoop the top award.

She said: "I'm really proud to win the award. It means so much that the work I've put in has been recognised in such a big way."

A former fast food restaurant manager, Helen joined the council's vehicle maintenance unit at the Beverley Depot in September 2015 after spending a year working at a garage in Hull, where she learned the basics of mechanics.

She is now repairing everything from buses to ride-on lawnmowers, and has already achieved her NVQ Level 3 qualification in heavy goods vehicle maintenance and repair from Hull College, after studying there one day a week during her apprenticeship.

Helen said: "From a young age I've always enjoyed fixing things and I was interested in mechanics, but when I left school I never had the confidence to work as a female in a male environment. "But now I'm doing it I absolutely love it and everyone I work with is great. "No day's the same as we work on lots of different vehicles and at different depots. I never stop learning and the people around me are willing to train me, which helps a lot."

East Riding of Yorkshire Council's apprentice vehicle technicians have reached the final of the APSE Awards a number of times, but Helen is the first to win the trophy.
Councillor Andy Burton, the council's portfolio holder for planning, highways and transportation, said: "It's a wonderful and very well deserved accolade for Helen to receive the award for the best apprentice against stiff competition throughout the whole country. "She has shown great drive and enthusiasm for her job and we're looking forward to seeing her progress within the council."

APSE, the Association for Public Service Excellence, recognises the best performances by councils and their staff across the UK, and the apprentice award aims to recognise future tradespeople and the councils who continue to invest in their workforce.

Photo  Apprentice of the year Helen Fordon is congratulated by, back row from left, Mike Featherby (head of Streetscene Services), Richard Etherington (workshop manager), Carl Gillyon (fleet services manager) and Philip Burgess (assistant fleet services manager). (Apprentice award 7)