A Coleraine student was speechless after being named as Europe’s top apprentice at a ceremony in Finland.
Samuel Gilmore, who attends the Northern Regional College’s Coleraine campus, travelled to Helsinki last week having reached the final of the Apprenticeship category at the European Alliance for Apprenticeship Awards.
To come out on top, carpentry and joinery apprentice Samuel had to impress an expert panel of judges as well as securing a public vote.
The awards recognise excellence in the supply, quality, image and mobility of apprenticeships.
Samuel said: “I never expected to even be nominated for this award.
“I was shocked and completely speechless.
“It was such a fantastic opportunity to travel to Helsinki and represent the college.
“I have learned an incredible amount from both my tutor Ian Forsythe at the college and my employer Mark Pollock.
“My classmates have also been really encouraging. I’m also very grateful to my parents Henry and Edelene – their support has been invaluable.”
Winning this award is the latest achievement for the Aghadowey apprentice, who has enjoyed a stellar year.
He was the Northern Ireland Young Apprentice of the Year in 2018 and a gold medallist at the UK National Finals of WorldSkills UK Live 2018.
Earlier this year, Samuel represented his college on a visit to South Africa to learn more about the work of apprentices there.
Congratulating Samuel on his latest success, Professor Terri Scott, principal and chief executive of Northern Regional College, said: “Samuel is a wonderful ambassador for the college and it is fantastic to see him gaining recognition at an international level.
“The European Alliance for Apprenticeships is very well regarded within the industry, so this is an outstanding achievement for both Samuel and the college.
“We are all very proud of Samuel’s accomplishments and wish him every success in the future.”
Mr Forsythe, carpentry and joinery lecturer at the college, who travelled to Helsinki to support Samuel, added: “This award really is the icing on the cake and rounds off a fantastic 12 months for Samuel.
“He has worked incredibly hard so it’s great to see that his dedication and hours of extra practice have paid off.
“Samuel is an inspirational role model for the other students who really look up to him.
“He is a great credit to his family, the college and indeed to the youth of today and I am delighted that his talent and commitment have been recognised by such an accredited body.”