Introducing The Fiona Wheeler Charitable Foundation, #OAAwards2022 Headline Sponsor

The sixth annual Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards will once again shine a spotlight on our county’s apprentices - and the businesses and organisations, training providers and schools that support their journey - recognising the huge contribution they make to our county’s economy at a live virtual ceremony on Thursday 19th May 2022. 

The 2022 headline sponsor is The Fiona Wheeler Charitable Foundation, which was established in memory of Fiona Wheeler, co-founder of west Oxfordshire based boutique client law firm The Burnside Partnership. Fiona sadly died in December 2019 aged only 35 after a long and courageous battle with illness.

Fiona believed passionately in supporting young people in their careers and was instrumental in establishing The Burnside Partnership's apprenticeship programme. The firm won the Small Apprenticeship Employer of the Year at the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards in 2019 and have sponsored the category each year since. Their first Apprentice Chloe won the inaugural Apprentice of the Year in 2017, attending the ceremony with Fiona and subsequently becoming an Apprenticeship Ambassador with OxLEP Skills. Chloe has joined the Awards Committee this year and will award the 2022 Apprentice of the Year. Here she explains why the Foundation has chosen to be the #OAAwards2022 headline sponsor.

Tell us why you’re supporting the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards and what it means to you to be the headline sponsor

We are supporting the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards as trustees on behalf of the Fiona Wheeler Charitable Foundation. 

Fiona was very supportive of apprenticeships and was a huge fan of the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards, having attended the first ever awards evening. Fiona, along with Anna Burnside, nominated Chloe (their apprentice at the time) for the Advanced Apprentice of the Year Award. Chloe went on to win this and also overall Apprentice of the Year in 2017. Therefore, this means a lot to both our firm and also the Foundation as Fiona was a key part of this.   

Being the headline sponsor for the awards means we can celebrate great apprentices and spotlight all of their achievements and hard work. Being a sponsor in the name of Fiona’s charity means that we can continue to support brilliant apprentices, as Fiona would have loved to have done that. 

What are you looking for in the overall Apprentice of the Year?

We are looking for someone who is dedicated to excelling in their career and has shown brilliant learning and development since the start of their apprenticeship. The Apprentice of the Year will be someone who has not only shown great success in their apprenticeship but also someone who is making exceptional contributions to their work.

What would you say to anyone thinking about entering or nominating?  

We would say to “just do it”.  

Entering the awards or being nominated is a great way of celebrating you or any apprentice who you think deserves to be recognised for their achievements and exceptional work. 

It is also a brilliant opportunity to acknowledge an individual’s development during their apprenticeship and their potential to exceeding in their future of learning and work.

Tell us about your organisation’s experience of Apprenticeships 

Our joint founder, Fiona Wheeler, was a great believer in the potential of youngsters to shine in the legal profession and was instrumental in establishing us as an apprenticeship employer. Her faith was rewarded when our first apprentice won Oxfordshire Apprentice of the Year. That apprentice continues with us as a very successful and highly valued trainee Legal Executive. In 2019, we were delighted to be named as Oxfordshire Small Apprenticeship Employer of the Year. Paralegal Apprenticeships offer a great career path through the law and we love the energy, enthusiasm, up-to-date legal knowledge and professionalism that apprentices bring to their roles at The Burnside Partnership.

About the Awards

Winners will be announced at a live virtual ceremony on Thursday 19th May 2022 from 19:00. 

Visit our Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards 2022 page

Join us for Oxfordshire Apprenticeships Hour (#OAHour) on Twitter @OxonApprentice from 13:00 every Thursday for latest on the Awards and join in the conversation using the hashtag #OAAwards2022.

If you would like the opportunity to support the Awards, please get in touch.

Pictured above is Fiona Wheeler with Chloe Penniston, Oxfordshire Apprentice of the Year 2017.