A TRAINEE gardener at Bishop Burton College has been named the best horticultural apprentice in the UK by the Association of Public Service Excellence.
Paul Thompson-Gough, who spent 20 years working as an engineer before deciding to follow his dream of becoming a gardener, has been training with Kirklees Council for a year.
Mr Thompson-Gough, who was nominated by his boss at the council, Steve Taylor, said: “After considerable thought, I decided a working life in horticulture was ideal as this goes hand in hand with the great outdoors, plant life and wildlife – all things, I hold close to my heart.”
After submitting a portfolio he was shortlisted before being named as the best apprentice.
“I was overjoyed at the prospect of attending the awards ceremony, if not a little nervous at the thought of the outcome. On the evening of the awards, after attending my interview, I sat with my wife and Steve in a total state of suspense. To my utter amazement I was announced as the winner and presented with my award.”
Mr Thompson-Gough now plans to complete a Level 3 qualification and aims to progressing further within the council – and said he would like to become a mentor for other apprentices.
Andy Black, director of services to business at the college, said: “We have worked closely with Kirklees Council over the past two years to develop an apprenticeship programme which works for both the organisation and the trainees.
“This scheme has been a great success and Paul’s fantastic achievements are proof of this.”