Gavin Thistlewood, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, is competing in the Brathay Challenge 2013 along with eight fellow apprentices as part of the Redrow Northern team. The event is the official search for apprentice team of the year and is organised by the Brathay Trust and supported by the National Apprenticeship Service.
Redrow currently employs 87 office and trade apprentices. A total of 27 of the most promising trainees from the company were chosen to take part in the challenge in three teams.
Gavin, 21, is based at Redrow’s Scholars Gate development, in Wakefield, as an apprentice joiner while also studying for his NVQ level two at Barnsley College.
Gavin said: “I started doing joinery in 2008 when I made furniture for two years while at college. A year later I was put forward in a competition to design a water feature for a residential home in Hoyland Common. My design then went on to beat entries from other universities and colleges across Yorkshire and I was featured in the local press. After I had won I was then asked to create the water feature along with my college tutor. The project was sponsored by Guinness and took three months to complete. It now stands in the foyer of the residential home.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with wood and I’ve also studied furniture design. After leaving college I wanted to expand on my joinery experience further by going into housebuilding. My father is a brick layer and was a sub-contractor for Redrow, so he helped along the way and one day mentioned that Redrow was recruiting apprentices so I decided to apply and not long afterwards I got an interview. From starting the job in 2011 it has been a positive experience and has built my confidence greatly. Along the way I have made great friends and work colleagues who have opened a lot of doors and opportunities for me to take my apprenticeship further.”
For part one of the challenge, Gavin will help to raise the profile of apprenticeships by undertaking a marketing campaign centred around National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from March 11-15. His team will promote the project within their own company, through local media and also using social networking sites. They will also engage with local schools and colleges to spread the word.
For part two of the challenge the teams will take on a project to help a local community organisation or charity.
Karen Jones, HR director at Redrow Homes, said: “This challenge is a wonderful opportunity for our young trainees to build on their skills. It’s a fantastic show case for the individuals involved and also serves to shine a national spotlight on apprenticeships as an alternative to university. At Redrow we are huge advocates of apprenticeships and believe that they are one of the best ways to future proof our business and ensure our employees have the skills set to succeed.”
The two tasks in the challenge’s regional heats will each account for up to 50 per cent of the team’s final score, which will be assessed by a portfolio submitted to the judges. The top two teams from each region (North, Central, London and South East, South) will then battle it out to be crowned the apprentice team of the year.
The finalists will be announced at an event in London in April. The competition culminates in an adventure challenge at the Brathay Trust’s Windermere headquarters from June 10 to June 12.
For more information about the Brathay Challenge 2013, visit www.brathay.org.uk
Redrow Homes is one of the UK’s leading house builders, operating across England and Wales, with a strong emphasis on high quality family housing in prime locations. Its New Heritage Collection of family homes combines traditional looking, ‘Arts & Crafts’ influenced exteriors with bright, modern, high specification interiors. Established more than 35 years, the company has won numerous awards over the years. Redrow received a 5* Award in the Home Builder Federation (HBF) annual customer satisfaction survey in 2011 and 2012; collected the Silver award in the Large Housebuilder category of the 2012 What House? awards; and its ‘Share a little bit of joy’ campaign was named best marketing initiative at the 2012 Housebuilder Awards. Web: www.redrow.co.uk.