Meet Autumn Walsh, Special Recognition Award winner at the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards

The Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards recognised the best talent in the county with a special virtual broadcast on Thursday 1st October 2020.

The Special Recognition Award, which is given to an Apprentice who has overcome barriers to work or learning to achieve within their Apprenticeship, was won by Autumn Walsh, a Business Administration Apprentice working for Oxfordshire County Council in the House Project. The House Project is an alternative housing pathway for 16-17 year old care leavers. It supports young people to make the transition from foster and residential care to living independently in their own shared house.

Autumn said: “To know that the work I had done was recognised by others and highly praised overwhelmed me. The House Project provided me with an opportunity to work in the field I always have wanted to work in, to work with young people in care or having experienced care like me and get their perspectives on the system. The support I had from all of those involved in the House Project was amazing and I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do without them. I honestly did not realise how much of an impact I have made to the House Project and how much I inspired others.”

The House Project Manager Sarah Ashfield said: "Autumn devotes her full time job and her free time during evenings and weekends to influencing policy change and informing operational practice to improve the lives for care leavers. She has showed great strength and resilience this year and without a doubt has a great work ethic which is great to see and provides a good role model for our House Project members and other care leavers of her age to say you can do it!!"

The award was sponsored by Popham Hairdressing, whose Apprentice Libby was highly commended in the Special Recognition category in 2019. Managing Director Sam Popham said: “Autumn has a vision to further the whole world of care and how individuals are helped into the world on their own, having left care. Autumn showed a dedication to the whole field in general and a commitment to changing the system that she came through so that it’s better for every child after her.”

Autumn said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to Popham for making me feel so welcome and comfortable in my interview and for the kind words they said about me. To hear Sam talk about me like that stunned me.”

See how Autumn felt when she found out she had won the award in this short clip:

See our article for details of all the winning and highly commended entrants.

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Join us for Oxfordshire Apprenticeships Hour (#OAHour) on Twitter @OxonApprentice from 1pm every Thursday for latest on the Awards and join in the conversation using the hashtag #OAAwards2021.