Ben Carter named ‘Apprentice of the Year in Plumbing and Gas’

Ben Carter, an apprentice at The Gas Shop in Felixstowe, has been named the Suffolk New College ‘Apprentice of the Year in Plumbing and Gas’, an award given at a presentation evening at the campus on 8 February.

From left: Paul Ridgeon (The Gas Shop), Paul Carter (Ben’s dad), Ben Carter (The Gas Shop), Eric Hempstead (The Gas Shop). Credit: Simon Abbott.

After the awards ceremony Ben said: “I am very happy to have received this award, and would like to thank everyone at The Gas Shop who has supported me and given their time and patience to assist my development. Working with top class professional tradespeople has given me a huge advantage, and enabled me to make rapid progress.

“Like many school leavers, I was unsure what career path to take, but starting an apprenticeship with a clear end goal in sight was the best decision I have ever made, and I would thoroughly recommend starting an apprenticeship.” 

The Gas Shop commenced trading in 1988, filling the void left when British Gas closed its showrooms. It sells, installs, services and repairs domestic gas boilers, cookers and fires, and has grown from very humble beginnings to a turnover approaching two million pounds. The company currently employs over 25 engineers and office staff, and visits over 220 customers each week.

Paul Ridgeon, Technical Director at The Gas Shop, said: “Finding established, good quality gas engineers to help grow the business has always proven difficult and we realised many years ago that our best option was to take control of the situation and train our own engineers.

“Ben first approached us while working for another large plumbing and heating company that he felt was not taking an interest in his personal development. We were able to give him the support and guidance he required and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He made rapid progress in a very short space of time and finished his apprenticeship a year early. In fact, we were so confident in his ability that we gave him his own apprentice while still an 18-year-old apprentice himself.

“Despite suffering very sad personal circumstances during his final exams, Ben has shown great determination to move his life forward, and fully deserves this award.” 

Simon Abbott, Managing Director at The Gas Shop, added: “For any aspirational company to survive and grow, it must invest time and money in young people –they are the future. We are very fortunate to have Ben and several other very talented young apprentices following behind him.

“I often hear negativity about young people in our industry from other businesses. However, as we have proven, if you look hard enough there are great opportunities for businesses to grow and train their own workforce through apprenticeships. Ben is actually our fourth employee to win this award, so we must be doing something right!

“I firmly believe that many school leavers who go straight to university and leave carrying large debts will never be able to catch up financially with a young person choosing an apprenticeship.”

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