Trailblazing teen lands top accolade

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A Derbyshire teenager is celebrating after becoming the first female winner of a prestigious ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award.

Leigh Worsdale, 18, from Ashgate, works as an apprentice heavy duty diesel engine builder for Foxwood Diesel, based in Whittington.

She scooped the title, supported by Boeing, at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Training Centre awards. As well as the overall accolade she was named ‘first year apprentice of the year’.

As part of her win, she will visit Boeing’s factory in Washington State, outside Seattle, to see first-hand how the global aerospace company designs, tests and builds its 737 aircraft.

The awards use nominations from apprentice employers and trainers and is judged by a panel of members of the AMRC training centre staff and award sponsors.

Leigh said: “I was shocked to win as there was such strong competition, but it’s amazing and I am over the moon.

“It feels great to have my work recognised by people in the industry outside Foxwood Diesel.

“ It was an amazing feeling to hear my name called on night and I can’t believe that I am going to Boeing’s factory in America.

“I am really interested in aeroplanes so am looking forward to the visit and particularly to the Boeing museum.”

Judges were ‘overwhelmingly impressed’ by Leigh’s confidence and spoke about how she continuously seeks ways to improve her workplace and its processes.

She has been responsible for introducing a number of incentives at Foxwood Diesel that have helped to improve the business.

Foxwood Diesel managing director, Ken Worsdale said Leigh was “enthusiastic, dedicated to the company and well in advance of her training plan”.

Leigh, a former Brookfield Community School student applied for an apprenticeship after her GCSEs because she wanted to gain experience while getting paid.

She was inspired by the facilities at the AMRC Training Centre after attending one of the centre’s open days with her school.

She will complete her apprenticeship this summer and hopes to go on and do a level four apprenticeship.