An Awards Evening to celebrate the achievements of higher and degree apprentices has taken place at Staffordshire University.

Over 100 graduate apprentices and their employers attended the star-studded event in The Catalyst which saw award winners from Capula, Merlin Entertainment and UHNM and gave recognition to those who have gone the extra mile to champion apprenticeships.

Speaking at the event, Maighread Hegarty, Associate Dean of Apprenticeships at Staffordshire University, said: “Staffordshire University was one of the first Higher Education Institutions in England to offer apprenticeships and now we are one of the largest, working with over 200 employers from large organisations to specialist SMEs. Our recent Ofsted inspection recognised how collaboration with employers is enhancing both development and delivery and supporting our apprentices to become skilled professionals in their field. We’re delighted to be celebrating the achievements of our talented apprentices and our successful employer partnerships.”

Winners in their categories were:

Digital Technology and Arts Outstanding Apprentice – Sally Parker from Capula Digital and Technology Solutions who was a awarded at First class honours, a distinction in her apprenticeship as well as winning Nuclear Apprentice of the Year.

Justice Security and Sustainability Outstanding Apprentice – Sophie Cordwell-James from Merlin Entertainment who showed exceptional determination throughout her Operations Departmental Manager apprenticeship and who is on track to become a future leader

Health Science and Wellbeing Outstanding Apprentice – Michelle Bowdler from Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust who impressed university staff and her employer with commitment she showed throughout her Nursing Associate apprenticeship

Outstanding Apprentice Performer – Michael Duan, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was nominated for his achievements in all academic modules and commended for his outstanding clinical practice in practical assessments of his Nursing Associate apprenticeship.

Mentor of the year – Paul Dyer of the Inspirational Learning Group was nominated by apprentice Liam Brookes who found Paul to be a great support and helped him build confidence throughout his apprenticeship and in the workplace

Apprentice Champion of the Year – Ian Davies from Staffordshire University who is recognised as a leader in apprenticeship education for biomedical scientists across the UK and was active in highlighting the contribution his Healthcare Science students made during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apprentice of the Year – Ben Slack from Unipart Rail who is described as “an example of apprentices at their best” and whose own progression in Embedded Electronic Systems Design is helping to inspire other apprentices.  Ben often runs training sessions across the business.

Employer of the Year – University Hospitals of North Midlands is a champion of apprenticeships and last year celebrated 42 graduate apprentices across several standards including Nursing Associate, Senior Leader and Healthcare Science. The award was collected by Katie Berger, UHNM Pathology Practice Educator and Quality Manager.

In addition, the evening also closed with presentations to graduating apprentices and a keynote speech from Kamal Ellis-Hyman, founder and director of Aim a Little Higher – a company which helps young people to find their passions and achieve academic success.

ON Monday 23 May, Staffordshire University will host an Apprenticeships Fair to showcase and promote apprenticeships and progression opportunities available in the region including apprenticeships and full-time degrees at the university.

A wide range of employers and apprentice providers will be represented at the fair including Staffordshire Police, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Combined Healthcare, Synthetic Solutions, Achieve Training, Stoke-on-Trent College, Newcastle and Stafford College Group, Reaseheath College, Wolverhampton College, Buxton and Leek College, Equality Training, Walsall College, Rebus Training, Landua Limited, Open from 1pm – 7pm, the event is open to school and college students and their parents. Anybody wishing to attend should email

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