Tia Whelan, an apprentice with UK Gas Services, is a major winner at the Association of Colleges’ national awards

Tia Whelan, a 20-year-old student at Leicester College, has won the major Apprentice of the Year award at the national Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Student of the Year Awards 2019. The award was presented to Tia at the annual AoC conference gala dinner in Birmingham on 19 November 2019.

Tia Whelan completed a three-year plumbing course at Leicester College before starting her property maintenance operative apprenticeship at UK Gas Services, where she is the first female in the team. She now takes on her own work experience students and has visited 10 schools and colleges over the last six months to speak to students about the construction industry and promote the programme to female students.

The awards were announced at an evening of celebration at the Association of Colleges’ Annual Conference, showcasing some of the ways in which colleges are transforming the lives of more than two million people across England and how vital colleges are to the future of the British economy in the 21st century.

Commenting on her win, Tia Whelan said:

“I honestly can’t believe that I’ve won the AoC Apprentice of the Year. I’m so grateful for Tina Jivraj at Leicester College for her support and am really chuffed. Thank you so much for the award. I’m over the moon.” 

Rachel Hall, Director of Apprenticeships at Leicester College added:

"We are exceptionally proud of Tia’s achievements and for winning such a prestigious award, which is testament to the amount of hard work and commitment she has put into her apprenticeship programme.  

"Tia has taken time out of her busy day to share her experiences with other young women to promote the construction sector as a viable career option and to mentor new apprentices, she is a true role model to others. We wish Tia huge success in her continued career within the construction industry."

Matt Page, Operational Manager at UK Gas and Tia’s line manager said:

"At UK Gas, we believe in supporting and developing all of our team members – whether they’re just starting out on their career as apprentices or part of our more experienced and long-serving staff who want to improve themselves.

"We’ve had a close and productive relationship with Leicester College for many years now including recruiting and developing 3-5 apprentices each and every year.

"We’re hugely proud of all of our people and this means that it’s difficult to single out individuals…. but having said that, it is with delight that we learned that Tia Whelan had won this prestigious award. Tia is one of a number of great young people from which our country and the construction industry overall will doubtless benefit for many years to come. Well done to Tia and all involved - we couldn't be more happy to have you associated with UK Gas."

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:

“Each year the level of applications is extremely high and it goes to show the fantastic work that students are doing in colleges, as well as the lengths colleges go to support their students.

“Tia has done amazingly well to win and she should rightly be proud of her achievements.”

Tia Whelan is also one of two regional finalists in the National Apprenticeship Awards and will attend the awards ceremony on 27 November 2019, where she will find out if she has won the title of Intermediate Apprentice of the Year.

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