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Higher Apprentice of Year has not let dyslexia block her career goals

Nerys Smithwick receives her Higher Apprentice of the Year award from Arwyn Watkins, OBE, managing director of Cambrian Training Company. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography.

Nerys Smithwick has not let dyslexia stop her from achieving her career goals at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport where she is being promoted through the ranks.

Now 35-year-old Nerys, who lives in Blaenavon, has been recognised for her dedication to learning by being named Higher Apprentice of the Year at Cambrian Training Company’s annual Apprenticeship, Employment and Skills Award.

There was double delight as The Celtic Collection, which includes the Celtic Manor Resort, was named Large Employer of the Year.

Achieving a series of apprenticeships, which have improved Nerys’ skills, knowledge and confidence in the past seven years, has been rewarded with promotions at the Celtic Manor Resort.

She has risen from bar work to room service supervisor at the resort and is described as an inspiration to her colleagues who are also working towards apprenticeships.

Nerys has progressed from an Apprenticeship in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership to a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Hospitality Management and now the Level 5 qualification.

Grateful for the support of her employer, Cambrian Training Company and her work colleagues, Nerys said: “It was a privilege just to be a finalist and I never expected to win the award which means a lot to me.

“This award proves that apprenticeships do work. They give you so much knowledge and confidence and I have turned everything that I’ve learned during my apprenticeships into practice in the workplace.”

Recognising employers and learners who have excelled in apprenticeship, skills and employment training programmes delivered by Cambrian Training Company, the awards were held at The Metropole Hotel & Spa, Llandrindod Wells.

The other Foundation Apprentice of the Year finalist was Ryan Harding, 26, Kepak, Merthyr Tydfil who lives in Blaenavon.

With offices in Welshpool, Holyhead, Colwyn Bay, Llanelli and Llanelwedd, Cambrian Training Company, one of Wales’ leading training providers, delivers work-based apprenticeships across Wales.

Arwyn Watkins, OBE, the company’s managing director, congratulated Nerys, the other award winners and finalists for their achievements despite the challenging disruptions caused by the pandemic over the past two years.

“These awards showcase the dedication and commitment by individuals and companies to the apprenticeship programme here in Wales,” he added. “Nerys has  demonstrated what can be achieved in career progression through apprenticeships.

“She is an example of how an apprentice can use the opportunities available to continue their learning and career journey.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in  Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.