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Apprentice improves bereavement services during pandemic

Bethany Mason

@ColegyCymoedd – A willingness to keep learning new skills and take on more responsibility in challenging circumstances has helped Bethany Mason to develop into an excellent bereavement services officer, says her boss.

Since joining Rhondda Cynon Taf Borough Council as a shy apprentice data entry clerk in 2016, Bethany, 21, has risen to a series of difficult challenges, making a huge difference to the staff of Glyntaff Crematorium at Glyntaff, Pontypridd and the grieving families they work with.

Committed to personal development, she has achieved a Foundation Apprenticeship and is now close to completing an NVQ level 3 in Business Administration, both delivered by Coleg y Cymoedd Nantgarw Campus.

Now Bethany has been shortlisted for the Foundation Apprentice of the Year award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021.

This annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships will see 35 finalists compete in 12 categories for awards. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on April 29.

Highlight of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcase businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.

The awards are jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, has renewed its headline sponsorship of the awards.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Working closely with her manager, Ceri Pritchard, Bethany has developed leadership skills and improved the smooth running of Glyntaff Crematorium by digitising and centralising burial records and cemetery plans for RCT Cemeteries.

She also helped to introduce a digital portal to access music for family cremation services, together with webcasts and visual tributes, which have been incredibly important for funerals held during the pandemic restrictions.

The measures have improved efficiency and helped funeral directors and people wishing to trace their family history.

Soon after being seconded to the bereavement services team at Llwydcoed Crematorium, two of Bethany’s colleagues became ill, leaving her to learn new skills quickly to both manage the complex workload with her manager, and maintain a good, family-friendly service.

“My apprenticeship has not only given me the skills to perform my role professionally and diligently but has also allowed me to progress personally and develop my ability to deal with a variety of situations,” said Bethany, who lives in Llantrisant.

“My confidence, self-esteem and performance at work have grown enormously and I take pride in the quality of my work.”

Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: “Our Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes are helping people fulfil their career ambitions and I’m delighted we have already reached our target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in this Senedd term. 

“This has been key in helping apprentices of all ages to gain important skills and experience that we know businesses across all sectors of the economy in Wales really need. This will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the achievements of all involved, from star apprentices to skilled learning providers.

“I’d like to congratulate all the finalists announced for this year’s event and wish each and every one all the best for the future.”

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