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Two Fenland students are among apprenticeship winners in college awards night

Two students from Fenland have been named Apprentice of the Year in a prestigious annual awards ceremony.

Harry Skoulding,17, of March, who works at the Old Nene Golf Club in Ramsey and Gemma Sessions, 33, a dental nurse at So Dental in Chatteris, received their awards for dedication to their chosen profession.

The 2020 Cambridge Regional College Apprenticeship Awards celebrated 13 employer winners and 12 apprentice winners from across the eastern region – a total of 25 awards.

Harry Skoulding. (28334281)
Harry Skoulding. (28334281)

The pair’s success comes amid National Apprenticeship Week, #NAW202, which runs from February 3 – 7, which aims to encourage people of all ages to consider an apprenticeship route into a great career.

Mark Robertson, principal of Cambridge Regional College, said: “The awards celebrate those learners who go the extra mile as excellent ambassadors for others.

“Our winning apprentices and employers trail-blaze a path of success in their chosen fields, which we hope will inspire other students of all ages to consider taking their first steps to a great career, through the apprenticeship route.”

Gemma Sessions. (28334283)
Gemma Sessions. (28334283)

Harry, a former student at King’s Ely, said: “Part of my reason to want to go into catering was the family business hotel and restaurant in March.

“I would help out there as I grew up and found my favourite thing was being part of people’s weddings and helping make the event a successful happy day for everyone.

“I had been working at the Old Nene Golf Club at weekends and was lucky I could continue by being taken on by them to study for the Level 2 Catering Apprenticeship.

“I’ve learnt a lot and enjoyed the flexibility. I think apprenticeships give skills that wouldn’t be picked up at college alone.

“I’m learning all the time in a real-life setting. I never expected to win this apprenticeship award and am pleasantly surprised! It shows I’m doing the right thing and that makes me very happy.”

Mum of two Gemma Sessions, 33, was studying fashion and textiles at Cambridge Regional College when she met her husband Leigh who was in the army.

They married when she was 20 and lived in Germany, Portsmouth and Thorney Island, starting their family early on.

“With Leigh being in the forces and getting posted on two tours of Iraq, my career never really took off,” Gemma said. “I worked in temporary or part time jobs which fitted around the children.

“I worked in a golf ball factory, a toy shop and a care home. The care home work made me realise I enjoyed being in a caring role.”

In 2012, the family moved to Chatteris, where Gemma worked at the Gables Care Home as activity coordinator for three years.

“While there a training opportunity come up at So Dental and I knew this was my chance to do something for me.

“During the apprenticeship I spent one night a week at college and worked five days a week at the dentist surgery. I loved the classroom learning and our tutor was brilliant.

“Being an apprentice has given me the opportunity to find a career I really love in which I can progress. Being a young mum, working and juggling college was busy and at times difficult, but it was do-able.

“I’m now a registered dental nurse. Apprenticeships are a great way to earn and learn and get hands on experience in a meaningful way.”

En-Qi Chi, owner of So Dental Chatteris, said: “Gemma has been great. She came knowing nothing about dentistry but has worked so hard, taken notes, revised, taken new things on board. Always eager to learn. She is very caring and has the ability to click with patients and help them to feel at ease. This is invaluable. Her people skills are incredible. Thanks to Gemma I will definitely take on another apprentice in the future.”

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