Boat building apprentice wins national award

Published: 20th November 2017

Published by City College Southampton

We are delighted to announce that Danielle Thomas, one of our boat building apprentices, has officially won the prestigious Apprentice of the Year 2017 at the Association of Colleges (AoC) student awards.

Announced at the AoC annual awards dinner on 14 November at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre, the Student of the Year awards recognise and celebrate talented and high achieving students from across the UK.

Danielle, 20, a keen sailor and currently in her final year of an advanced apprenticeship with Oyster Yachts, was praised for being a role model for young women in the marine industry. Danielle joined City College, from Hounsdown School, with aspirations of learning to build high performance yachts.

Being the only female in her class and in the workplace has not deterred her from striving to be the best and in her own words never ‘outgunned’. Danielle played an important role in high profile projects outside of her apprenticeship which included building two docking RIBs for Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) and restoring a medieval cargo ship in the City of Southampton.

Speaking about her success, Danielle said: "It’s unbelievable to have won – I really wasn’t expecting it.  It’s lovely to have my work recognised at a national level but it wouldn’t have been possible without the continued support from City College and especially Darren Patten. They have all really pushed and encouraged me."

Photo: L-R: Steph McGovern (BBC Breakfast presenter), Danielle Thomas (City College apprentice), award sponsor representative from Reed

City College’s Marine Skills Centre Manager, Darren Patten, commented: “We are really proud of Danielle’s achievements. Throughout her studies, she has made a huge contribution to the college and various other organisations including the communities of Southampton and Portsmouth. When working with BAR, she demonstrated her confidence and technical skills by supervising the vitally important task of testing the RIB’s vacuum bag for leaks and taking on a project management role.

“Danielle is a worthy winner and is an inspiration to other young women considering a career in the marine industry.”

Norman Blick, Production Manager at Oyster Yachts said: "We are delighted for Danielle to have won this prestigious award and are pleased that her hard work and the skills she has gained during her apprenticeship have been recognised.

"Oyster Yachts is a keen supporter of apprentices within the marine industry and currently employs 375 people in the UK with 20 employees in our apprenticeship programme."

City College Principal, Sarah Stannard, commented: "We are very proud of Danielle, who is an excellent apprentice and we are thrilled that her achievements have been nationally recognised. Danielle is a shining example of how City College works closely with local businesses to develop skilled young people with bright futures ahead of them."

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "The Student of the Year awards showcase the very best of college students across the country. They celebrate exceptional students who stand out from the crowd.  Danielle’s passion to succeed in the marine industry stood out in the application. She’s an excellent role model for others and we hope many more apprentices follow in her footsteps."