Polymer Industries Apprentice of the Year winner announced

Samuel Johnston

THE British Plastics Federation (BPF) and the Worshipful Company of Horners have announced that Samuel Johnston of Colloids Ltd has won the 2023 Polymer Industries Apprentice of the Year Award.

The competition aims to recognise the commitment and achievement of apprentices in the polymer industry. It is open to all apprentices involved in a technical, engineering, manufacturing or design role nominated by their employers or training provider.

After the initial nominations in October, Sam Johnston, Colloids laboratory and regulatory apprentice, was chosen as a finalist. The next stage in the process required him to be assessed by an adjudicating panel and in December he was asked to speak about his achievements, challenges and plans and ambitions for the future in front of the five judges.

Sam’s colleagues are described as having been impressed by his ‘dedication to excellence, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn’. He has added value to the business and earned the respect and admiration of his peers and supervisors.

Sam was awarded a £500 cash prize, a ceremonial drinking horn, and a formal invitation to Mansion House where he received a certificate from the Lord Mayor of London.

Nikki Thompson, HR Manager for the Colloids Group, said, “We are so proud of Sam’s achievements, this really sets the standards for our apprenticeship programme here at Colloids Ltd.”

Runner up was Coopervision’s Kelly McClory, who also received a certificate and a £200 cash prize. She has completed the PIABC Level 3 Diploma in Polymer Processing followed by achieving the Science Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship Standard. Kelly was nominated by Solutions 4 Polymers, who provide apprenticeship provision to the polymer sector.

Kelly McClory

Judges were impressed with her determination and commitment. Said to be initially apprehensive about her ability to complete the apprenticeship, Kelly took control of her own learning, studying mathematics on her own initiative. Her new confidence and technical ability mean she now plays a key role within the department responsible for tooling insert manufacture, a key aspect of contact lens production. Kelly deals with technical matters, leads a team of technicians, and consults with several other departments.

Chairman of apprentice award committee, Ian Paterson (of The Worshipful Company of the Horners) said, “The standard of entries for the 2023 award was of a particularly high level giving the judges a difficult task. Sam is a worthy winner showing a real dedication to excellence, drive and a passion to develop his knowledge and skills. I am delighted with the success of Sam and runner up Kelly in this year’s award and congratulate them both on their achievement.”

BPF director general Philip Law added, “The Polymer Industries Apprentice of the Year Award is a great way to shine a light on apprentices who have excelled in their role. As the industry looks at ways to narrow the skills gap, apprenticeships play a crucial role and benefit both individuals and employers. I congratulate our very worthy winner and runner up from this year’s competition.”

The judges also decided special praise should be given to this year’s ‘highly commended’ Dawid Lipa from Counterplas Ltd and James Nguyen from Berry.