Meet Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards 2021 Apprentice of the Year George James

The Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards recognised the best talent in the county with a special live streamed event on Thursday 6th May 2021.

The Apprentice of the Year Award was won jointly by George James, an Apprentice Sports Coach with Ignite Sport UK and Emila Reyes Pabon, a Technician Scientist Apprentice at the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility (CBF), part of the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute.

George was recognised due to his drive, enthusiasm and dedication both to his own Apprenticeship and to Apprenticeships more widely and his ability to overcome the challenges that his medical diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome has presented him. His self awareness, maturity and willingness to share his feelings enabled him to work with his employer to create a thriving learning environment. George is determined not to let his condition hold him back and is a fantastic role model.

The award was sponsored by Popham Hairdressing, whose Apprentice Libby was highly commended in the Special Recognition category in 2019.

Managing Director Sarah Cherrill said: "We found George to be totally exceptional in every way. When we met with him over a Zoom meeting, it was clear the barriers and obstacles George had to overcome were varied but each very challenging in their own way. He was able to talk very openly and honestly about them all and has been able adapt to be able to successfully push on with his Apprenticeship and continue to grow and develop."

"We also felt George also had some great ideas about how to promote and encourage Apprenticeships to other people and he was very clear in his intention to really empower other young people to take on Apprenticeships. He really wants to pay forward what he had taken away from his own experience to help others. We got how much of a difference he clearly makes to all of those who are lucky enough to work with him - we are sure he is destined for great things in the future."

George was chosen as the joint overall Apprentice of the Year by headline sponsor High Spec Composites, with support from the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards committee. George received a beautiful bespoke carbon fibre trophy, designed and hand crafted at High Spec Composites.

Sarah Jaycock, Exective Director at High Spec Composites said: "George has demonstrated with excellence how an Apprenticeship can help a person to develop, both personally and professionally. He has embraced every challenge thrown at him and has overcome his anxieties towards his condition. He has become a confident and inspirational leader, speaking publicly and to students and encouraging sports to young people through being a wonderful role model."

George said: "Winning Oxfordshire Apprentice of the Year and the special recognition award was incredible and I’m so thankful to everyone who made it possible. It’s really nice to be recognised for the work myself and everyone at Ignite Sport UK have been doing. After a tough year for everyone, it was fantastic to see so many people who have been helping the community all throughout Oxford, which makes it even more humbling that I managed to win. Congratulations to all of the other finalists, it really could’ve been awarded to any of us."

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