Ron Simmonds Award 2016 - Congratulations Matthew Evans

We are please to share with you that our hero Matthew Evans has won the Ron Simmonds Construction Apprentice of the Year Award 2016.

Here is a write up for Plymouth Herald:

A YOUNG bricklayer has been honoured as the very first recipient of the city's Construction Apprentice of the Year award in honour of a former Plymouth Alderman, Mayor and brickie.

Matthew Evans, who trains and works with Elmes Construction, was handed the award at the Construction and Built Environment Apprentice jobs fair held at the Council house.

The event was run in parallel with the Plymouth Manufacturers Group and Building Plymouth's recruitment fair in the Plymouth Guildhall.

Handing Matthew the award was council leader Tudor Evans who said the trophy paid tribute to Ron Simmonds, a former Alderman who trained to be an apprentice bricklayer in his youth.

To an assembly of apprentices, their family, friends and workmates, Mr Evans noted how the judges have found it very difficult to choose between them.

Lizzy Berna, an apprentice with AECOM who was working towards a foundation degree in civil engineering at City College Plymouth was handed the Highly Commended award, as was Liam Willsher, a plastering apprentice with Zibest Plastering and Building Contractors.

Matthew Evans, currently studying at City College Plymouth while working with Elmes Construction, was presented the cup and title of Construction Apprentice of the Year.

Speaking afterwards, Peter Elmes, director of Elmes Construction, said Matthew joined his firm on work experience and then "we liked him so much we took him on".

He added: "Matthew's time keeping is impeccable, he's a real grafter and whilst he's been at college he won the Reece French memorial trophy for apprentice bricklayers.

"The good thing about being an apprentice is you are learning and out earning money.

"If you're aged around 14 and you're thinking you don't want to go the road of academia and you're hands on, you should think about attending the Skills Group or City College. You learn practical skills and by 16 you could go onto an apprenticeship.

"The whole ethos of our company is to support youngsters to fulfil their potential and I think it's wonderful Matt's the first winner of the Ron Simmonds cup."

Matthew said he was "shocked" at the win as the quality of the other entrants was very high.

He said: "Before I originally applied to do a bricklaying course at college I had no direction or motivation to do anything.

"My mum suggested a trade and suggested I apply to college. I really have found my groove there. I was there six months and then the opportunity with Peter came up.

"There is this stereotypical image about construction, but there's so many different routes for you to go along.

"I've never done anything more fulfilling in my life to be honest. You may be exhausted at the end of each day but you will turn up the next morning."

Edward Coley, head of skills and employability at Plymouth City Council said the apprentice fairs and award was part of an ongoing programme to showcase careers and job opportunities in the construction and built environments.

He said:" We want to raise the profile of the industry and show that the traditional stereotype is not correct.

"There's more than 100 different apprenticeships and career paths in the built environment and runs into hundreds more when you includes roles such as project management and subdivisions like supply chains. It's not just joinery and bricklaying.

"It's a fantastic industry to get into and have a varied career.

"We had such fantastic quality of entries [for the award] that the winner, Matthew, won by the narrowest of margins. There was next to nothing between all three of them and it was very inspiring reading through their applications.

"All three had great individual stories and are clearly potential masters and mistresses of their trade.

"Ron Simmonds himself was an inspiring character, a former bricklayer, union representative and a passionate advocate of apprenticeships and it was a good way to celebrate his legacy with this award."

Speaking after the event, Tudor Evans said Ron was "a perfectionist" who took "great pride in his trade and who better to name an inspirational cup after."

He said the event was the council's first attempted at getting a skills fair for apprenticeships and it showed hundreds of opportunities for youngsters.

He said: "Within the next decade it is estimated there will be a need for 10,000 construction roles in the city and my ambition is to get as many people from Plymouth as we can in those roles.

"These are skilled jobs – plumbers, surveyors, architects. All of these trades are important and all can be apprentices.

"I don't want people to say they had to leave Plymouth for work. We are creating a reservoir of opportunity, making sure that the young people have learned the skills they need.

"An apprentice can earn and learn."

Mr Evans said there was a vast amount of construction planned for the city in the coming years and it was an opportunity for local youngsters to be a major part of that.

He said: "I want young people to be able to help build the city they live in.

"Around 70 years ago, their grandfathers and grandmothers had that chance to rebuild Plymouth and what's happening now means young people are having that opportunity again."

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