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New City College apprentices reach final four in UK brickwork awards

Two New City College apprentices have won through to the final four of the ABC Brickwork Outstanding Apprentice of the Year competition.

Two New City College apprentices have won through to the final four of the ABC Brickwork Outstanding Apprentice of the Year competition.

As colleges up and down the country get ready to mark National Apprenticeship Week from February 6-12, NCC are delighted to announce that Thomas Ashby and Jack Simmons were chosen as finalists for their work ethic, superb craftsmanship and dedication to the industry.

Along with the two other finalists, they are looking forward to The ABC Awards ceremony on February 24 2023 at London’s Royal Horseguards Hotel where the overall winner will be revealed.

Jack, who is employed by Swift Brickwork and attends New City College’s Construction & Engineering Centre in Rainham, has already won the college Apprentice of the Year title and is hoping he can add another trophy to his cabinet.

Asked why he chose to train as a bricklayer, Jack said: “The inspiration to become a bricklayer was my desire to appreciate the work that I can accomplish and the ability to always work hard and improve, no matter where I am in my career. Bricklaying ticked all these boxes. I love that I can stand a couple of feet away and look at the work that I have completed that day and be proud of myself.”

His skills are appreciated by his mentor, Dean Degun, from Swift Brickwork, who said: “Jack has never been late or missed a day from the start of his employment. Each morning he is out on site before we start preparing for the day and by the same token, he is the last one in after making sure everything is complete, covered and tidy.”

Dean added: “Jack, in my opinion, is possibly the best apprentice I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with and the nearest thing to being a natural bricklayer. The physical work really counts as only half of the package, it’s about attitude and the ability to understand and follow instructions while being respectful of people. Jack has all these qualities and more, which is quite rare.”

His teacher at New City College, Ian Collett, added: “Jack is keen to grow and develop his knowledge as he understands the importance of continued personal and professional development. He strives to be the best he can be by attending various ABC assessment centre courses and watching YouTube videos in his own time to learn how to improve his skills.”

The other New City College apprentice, Thomas Ashby, is employed by Grangewood Brickwork Services and is also a student at New City College’s Construction & Engineering Centre in Rainham.

He said: “Bricklaying to me is more than just a job. It is my pride and my dignity. Since working in the industry I have learned how to be a resilient, hard-working individual who can overcome any obstacles in a calm and collected manner. Ever since I can remember I have always been a hands-on person who loved to show everyone what I had built. I have found bricklaying to be a very rewarding vocation because after I have completed a job, I can stand back and be proud knowing that all my hard work was worth it. This is why I knew bricklaying was for me.”

Tom McGuire, from Grangewood Brickwork Services, said: “Thomas is undoubtably naturally gifted when it comes to laying bricks. The complexity of some of the bricklaying tasks he is performing on site would be a challenge for someone with many years’ more experience. His attendance and punctuality is 100%, and the pride and care he takes in his work is outstanding. He is a team player and has a superb work ethic, while taking on instructions, communicating and asking questions. But it is his contributions on site and his desire to learn that sets Thomas apart from the vast majority and makes him such a valued member of the Grangewood Brickwork family.”

His teacher at New City College, Ian Collett, said: “Thomas has progressed well and is unphased by any tasks that are asked of him. He is conscientious about furthering his development, and always raises a question if he is unsure. He has grown in confidence and presents himself and his work with pride.”

The ABC Awards celebrate brickwork contractors, recognising great craftsmanship and a commitment to industry above and beyond good practice. The Association of Brickwork Contractors is eager to showcase the great work of its members and celebrate the achievements of apprentices, employees and suppliers.

Find out more about Apprenticeships at New City College

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