During the COVID-19 pandemic Laura, a Müller Milk & Ingredients apprentice, who works in the creamery department at Müller Milk & Ingredients’ Severnside Dairy, stepped up to cover a shift leader role, swapping her 9-5 hours to shifts working both days and nights. 

Laura started on the Eden apprentice programme in Advanced Dairy Technology in 2017. During her time on the programme, Laura has focused on college work and completing projects, gained experience from two mentors, set herself the challenge of gaining experience within each of the 5 departments across the Creamery at Severnside. Then in her final year, focused on completing her final year project as well as working with the Private Label Flavoured milk team  

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis Müller Milk & Ingredients’ (MMI) has helped to feed the nation and that is all down to colleagues like Laura who stepped up in the face of adversity.  

Due to the pandemic, Severnside’s Creamery department needed a Shift Leader and Laura stepped up. Laura’s manager and mentor Rob, Operational Excellence Lead at MMI Severnside, congratulated her for taking on this challenge:  

“This is a very challenging role, one that is usually reserved for managers with experience in front line leadership. Laura stepped up and impressed everyone with her ability to manage a highly skilled work force. 

This also meant Laura was working full time, across both day and night shifts, all while completing her final year assessment.  

Laura is a real asset to MMI, always ready to jump in to fill gaps where required, and still managing to work on projects that will make the site more efficient.  

Juggling this new role, continuing her final year assessment and working on projects all throughout a global pandemic has paid off for Laura, not only is she more confident, but I’ve seen a will to succeed blossom in her. I’ve no doubt that Laura will go on to do great things in her career starting with her new role as Technical Support Officer.” 


Boulting Ltd

Aaron Pendlebury is completing his Level 3 Infrastructure Technician Apprenticeship using our apprentice levy funding. Aaron joined the company in March 2019, working in our IT department whilst studying for his technical apprenticeship with Warrington and Royal Vale College. Aaron spends 1 day a week studying with the rest of the time spent in work. 

During the pandemic, whilst most of the IT team were placed on furlough, Aaron rolled his sleeves up and got stuck in to help oversee the IT Service Desk.

As a company, traditionally our employees are based at our sites and offices, Aaron was critical in getting them set up for home working so that we could continue to provide critical services to our clients within industrial engineering sectors for key infrastructure. 

Just before lockdown, Aaron helped to roll out over 50 + machines and he set the majority up within a week to enable employees to keep working and supporting the end users. He played a huge part in the mobilisation which has allowed our operations to continue and protected our workers safety.

Aaron has been on the modern day front line, keeping a cool head and positive demeanor whilst tackling / triaging a seemingly insurmountable number of requests, when nearly all staff were switched to remote working for the first time, and all at once.

Amid the growing stressors and uncertainty, Aarons character has remained nothing short of exemplary and I have received both formal and anecdotal praise for Aarons attitude and behaviour.


Cambridgeshire Community Services

Sabrina is a Trainee Nursing Associate and started her apprenticeship in September 2019. When Covid  restrictions came into force she had just finished a placement in a medical short stay unit, but then had to return to her “home” base of iCaSH (sexual health clinic) in Cambridge and resume her role as a Health Care Assistant (HCA).

During this time Sabrina continued to engage with the theory modules in the course and passed an exam with a very good pass mark. Sabrina was also expected to continue in her role as an HCA in the ICaSH clinic as the level of staff sickness in the unit was high due to Covid.

Routine vaccinations for patients were put on hold during this time, but a few weeks ago the go- ahead was given for them to recommence. Sabrina was given the task of collating the spreadsheets to determine who needed to be recalled and to set up the clinics with the help of an HCA who Sabrina was also given line management responsibility for. Sabrina says that it was a big challenge, but one which she has enjoyed, and her line manager has said that Sabrina’s leadership potential has really shone through.

Because Sabrina has been assessed as being able to administer the vaccinations herself, this means that she is able to ensure that the patient journey is continuous with contact with the same member of staff from the initial phone call to book an appointment, to the final administering of the vaccination. Due to Sabrina’s planning, it also means that the patient has a more streamlined appointment with all treatment potentially being given at one time, rather than repeated visits.

Sabrina has demonstrated that her knowledge acquired as an apprentice has allowed her to develop her leadership and clinical skills during the pandemic when resources have been limited and services cut back to a minimum. Working in a community Trust rarely hits the headlines, even during Covid, but Sabrina’s determination to succeed and to use her knowledge to benefit the patient’s experience stands out as exemplary.


BMW Group Plant Swindon

The Role of Daniel Brown as a Tool Maintenance Apprentice is to work within the Toolroom environment and learn skills and knowledge to allow him to Maintain and repair Tool sets required for the production of high quality panels.

During the COVID-19 Lockdown period Dan volunteered to continue working through on a project that the business ran with a company called OES Medical, assisting with the building of Ventilators for the NHS.

Dan was in his 2nd year of his 4 year apprenticeship and had only spent 6 months on Plant having completed his first year at Swindon College. The role that Dan volunteered for certainly put his skills to the test and really accentuated just how much he has learnt is the short time he had been in the workplace and the knowledge he gained from his time at college.

The project required Dan to work some very long and unsocial hours, with a fair amount of travelling to Whitney and back.

The tasks that were asked of Dan were at a level far in advance of his years, but that did not phase him, he accepted every challenge with enthusiasm and passion, determined to succeed no matter what. His ability to achieve the required components in the timescale required demonstrated his commitment to the tasks. His dedication to assist and complete tasks also led to him being involved in the redesigning of various elements, the project leaders were coming to him for advice on what was and wasn’t possible.

Not only did Dan volunteer for a role that would push him in realms he didn’t realise he was capable of, he also was prepared to put himself and his family at risk to assist the NHS. Whilst Dan was heavily involved in this work he attend virtual lessons with college when time allowed and when it didn’t he had fellow apprentices take notes and he caught up in his time at home. He never missed a deadline and his work was still submitted to a very high standard that he had set in his 1st year.

This period of change has enhanced Dans skillset and his confidence in what he can achieve, I have seen him grow in this time from a timid young boy who is keen to work hard and do everything asked of him, to a strong young man that has a level of confidence and maturity beyond his years, attributes that will only serve him well during the remainder of his apprenticeship and set him ahead of his year group.


Guilden Sutton Day Nursery

As an Apprentice Nursery Nurse, Lily Huntington’s role is to provide care and education for the children within our childcare setting. Meeting all of their needs both physically and emotionally whilst continuing to create a safe and exciting environment for them to play, explore, learn and grow.

Lily returned to the nursery in June to enable more key workers to return to work. It became quickly apparent that her role soon became to support a vulnerable child with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) to be able to access our nursery. She worked alongside our Special Education Needs Co-Ordinator and the child’s family to build a bond with the child allowing him to feel secure and cared for whilst in the nursery. 

She gave support to enable the child to be fully included within our setting, allowing him opportunities to create an attachment to her which we relied upon when our SENCO was not available to him. Without this the child would not likely have been able to access our nursery in these times and his emotional wellbeing needs would have suffered if his main key person (SENCO) was not available for him. To build a bond with a child who has these sorts of specific needs requires a person who has patience, resilience and a huge amount of empathy. You also need a good level of understanding of childcare learning and development to be able to tailor your practice to suit the individual child. 

She did this whilst also looking after other key worker’s children, many of whom have parents on the front line and their family dynamics had also changed within lockdown, not to mention many had not been away from home in several months. To be able to achieve what she has as an apprentice is outstanding and shows the potential she has to progress and excel in her career, possibly with a speciality in working with children SEND or from vulnerable backgrounds.


Yorkshire Housing

Aaron Price began his Surveyor Apprenticeship journey with Yorkshire Housing in August 2018. His contractual responsibility is to assist with the implementation of quality control monitoring and checking contractor performance, including monitoring building defects, and conducting post- repair inspections. 

Aaron side-stepped during the pandemic period from his apprentice surveyor role involving conducting site visits/inspections, to supporting Yorkshire Housing property services team behind the scenes. He was, and still is, instrumental during COVID-19 in supporting Yorkshire Housing’s repairs help desk and helping the organisation to catch up with the volume of repairs that had built during full lockdown. 

While working on the help desk during lockdown, Aaron provided tenants with confidence as to when their repair would be undertaken, supporting the property administration team when the volume of work was high, enabling the team to continue to provide an effective and efficient service. 

When faced with the global pandemic, which was a huge unexpected challenge, Yorkshire Housing had to change the way it operated overnight. Non-emergency inspection visits were put on hold and consequently Aaron had to work from home as his site visits were at a standstill. However, Aaron used this as an opportunity to display how the skills and knowledge he had gained so far on his apprenticeship were transferable.  

Aaron willingly assisted the repairs help desk team to deliver an efficient and effective service, supporting with all contractor variations and inputting them on Yorkshire Housing’s database. This required the knowledge and IT system experience, cross-team communication and confidence when challenging contractor decisions – all of which Aaron had gained throughout his apprenticeship and now executed at a very high standard. 

Aaron also became a valuable support element for the surveyors and the repairs managers.  With the wealth of experience Aaron has gained during his apprenticeship he has been able to support with raising works effectively, acting with speed and accuracy.   

Yorkshire Housing support tenants who may need extra emotional support and understanding. Aarons approach, manner and willingness to help the team and support the tenants over the pandemic period has been impressive, wasting no time raising necessary works and following through with queries, making sure nothing is missed to support the tenants. There is no question that Aaron regularly goes over and beyond to support the tenants and the team with what is required. 

Although Aaron was unable to be as active with the surveyors during the pandemic, he was still open and positive about learning from behind the scenes. Aaron’s commitment and enthusiasm to continue being an asset to YH is commendable and he followed this through in his apprenticeship qualification. Aaron used the lockdown period to complete all requirements and all the remaining assignments and tests virtually. Aaron naturally adapted to learning, working from home and being managed remotely, showcasing his maturity and commitment to the role and his qualification.


George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust

Satya Shrestha is a Student Nursing Associate and once qualified will be a Registered Nursing Associate.  A Nursing Associate is a new role designed by Health Education England to bridge the gap between a Registered Nurse and a Healthcare Assistant.  The Student Nursing Foundation Degree Apprenticeship is a two year programme which involves working in clinical practice and attending University once a week.  

Satya was in the final year of his apprenticeship when the pandemic hit and was working on a respiratory ward with patients with Covid-19.  Satya found it challenging as staff members, including himself had to self-isolate with symptoms.  Satya found that providing comfort and assurance to  patient’s and their families became more significant as families were unable to visit their loved ones.  Satya became the patients’ advocate doing the best that he could for them taking care of patients at the end of their life and delivering care after death. 

Throughout the pandemic Satya has also taken care of his colleagues and other members of the multidisciplinary team.  Satya recognised when staff members were feeling depressed or anxious due to patients dying and not being able to see their family members and has signposted them to free online mental health support for NHS workers.  

Satya kept himself updated with the Government guidelines during the pandemic, the guidelines were constantly changing and Satya was quickly able to adapt.  Satya had the opportunity to learn new skills, these included attending training on Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and Non Invasive Ventilation and how to support patients who were undergoing this treatment.  Satya also supported the clinical skills team at the trust as he assisted with the staff antibody testing programme by taking staff members blood for testing.

Although universities closed Satya continued with his apprenticeship, the University quickly adapted and changed to online learning using various online platforms.  There were also changes to learning in the workplace, as apprentices could no longer go on spoke visits with other members of the multidisciplinary team.  

Satya has proven himself to be a valuable member of the organisation, he has a calm and compassionate nature, showing empathy to his patients and colleagues.  Satya has continued to develop in his role making the most of his learning opportunities.


Northumbria Healthcare

Ethan Brennan is a Healthcare Level 2 Apprentice, during Covid-19 Ethan was undertaking a placement on a respiratory ward, carrying out daily healthcare duties. As with all apprentices he was offered the opportunity to move to a more low risk area, he declined as he wanted to remain in his original placement to care for the elderly patients and support the team.

During Covid-19 Ethan chose to remain on a reparatory ward, caring for patients and supporting the team. Ethan has continuously demonstrated a caring, compassionate manner toward the patients he has cared for, as well as their relatives and his colleagues. As highlighted by his placement manager he went above and beyond for his patients on a daily basis, an example of this, Ethan would create a shopping list for the patients on the ward and go to the hospital shop in his break to collect items, he said it made the patients just a little bit happier. Ethan would stay after his shift so that he could support patients to facetime their relatives on ipads. This made a huge difference to the patient’s hospital experience in a very difficult climate.

Although Ethan was 24 when he started his apprenticeship he did not have a background in care or any care experience.Ethan has not always found the course work/study easy however he has remained engaged and keen to learn and remained focused with support, and continued to undertake a full day of study on a weekly basis. As a result Ethan has just started his new Healthcare Assistant role on an elderly medicine ward. Ethan now hopes to progress onto the nurse associate programme in the future and to become a SN.


The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

It was during this year’s unprecedented national lockdown that STFC Advanced Engineering Apprentices stepped up and helped a national effort to produce 20 years’ worth of mechanical ventilators in just 12 weeks to equip the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. Jack Day, Christopher Robinson and Christopher Young joined the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as advanced engineering apprentices in September 2016.

During the summer of 2020, STFC was part of a consortium of significant UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors to produce medical ventilators for the UK named the “Ventilator Challenge UK”. The project was a massive success having produced 13,437 ESO2 Ventilators in total, equivalent to 20 years of production in just 12 weeks. There were over 7500 people involved within the project and at its peak; they were making more ventilators in a day than were previously made in 10 months – 400~ a day. 

Jack Day, Christopher Robinson and Christopher Young volunteered for the project after an organisational call for volunteers. The advanced skills of the three were quickly recognised and they were moved to work within the Rework, Repairing and Resolving Faults section. They then had the pleasure of testing the first ESO2 Ventilator (ESO2-00001), along with the first and last consortium made machine. 

Overall Jack Day, Christopher Robinson and Christopher Young spent thirteen weeks volunteering throughout the entire duration of the project, working day shifts that were 07:00-14:30, working four days on and then four days off. This volunteering effort demonstrates their altruism as they were also preparing for and sitting their End Point Assessment (EPA) and completing their HNC in engineering at the same time. Completing and successfully passing EPA first time and achieving a HNC in engineering is no mean feat, let alone whilst simultaneously helping to produce 13,437 ESO2 Ventilators for the NHS during a global pandemic! 

This experience has certainly been a major development opportunity in these apprentices careers and here at STFC we look forward to seeing how they will utilise the technical and non-technical skills they developed during the project as they transition into permanent technician roles across the organisation.



Cavendish Nuclear

Harry Clarke is a 4th year Electrical Design Apprentice based out of our Leicester design office. He attends college one day a week and works in the design office the rest of the week putting his theory into practice. With the lockdown measures resulting from the pandemic Harry had to adjust to both remote/virtual working and learning. He has not been back to the office since March but has continued to deliver excellent work both at work and at college.

During the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 virus Harry was aware that many health and care facilities were running low on PPE and were not able to offer key workers the basic level of safety they required to perform their job roles and to keep their patients safe. When lockdown began Harry was one of many employees across the company required to leave the workshop/office environment and to begin working from home. Harry had built a 3D printer in recent years as a home project and after seeing these reports of the PPE shortfall decided to use his 3D printer and CAD skills to help where he could. Harry produced 3D printed face visors with a clear acetate insert as the face shield, which he donated to local Hospitals, GPs, Pharmacies and Care Homes. He printed multiple batches of these visors and donated to many different facilities across the City and County.

He discovered a small group on Facebook who were joining forces to print and donate visors across the whole of the UK. This group grew and managed to create a network of volunteers with printers and put them in touch with facilities in need to get them the PPE they required within a matter of days. By printing and donating these visors Harry had a real impact on the community by improving the safety for both the key worker staff and the patients. Harry did not sit back when the country went in to lockdown, he knew the skills he had developed at Cavendish Nuclear and on his apprenticeship could be used to have a positive impact on the community in a time of need.

Harry has proved to himself that he can achieve what he sets his mind to regardless of the limitations imposed by his environment. He showed true passion for his discipline by building his own 3D printer. When he saw a need he did not hesitate to take action to provide a solution that had real value to his community and country. His ability to take what he learns and transform it into the tangible is a valuable skill that will take him far in his chosen career.