Two young apprentices working at furniture manufacturers based in Lancashire have received national recognition for their hard work from The Furniture Makers’ Company, the furnishing industry’s charity. 

Jade Ansell, who works at Silentnight Beds in Barnoldswick, and Liam Field, who is employed by The Senator Group in Accrington, have been named joint winners of the charity’s first ever Apprentice Award. 

Jade works as a manufacturing apprentice at the bed manufacturer. She has recently completed an NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Furniture, Interiors and Wood Machining at Burnley College. She is soon going to begin a Level 3 Institute of Leadership and Management diploma. 

Liam, who is also studying at Burnley College for a Higher National Certificate in Furniture Design and Make, is a CNC technician at The Senator Group, an international office furniture manufacturer. 

The pair fought off stiff competition from other apprentices working at furniture and furnishing manufacturers around the UK, with seven shortlisted apprentices attending a judging day at Furniture Makers’ Hall, London in June. 

The Apprentice Award recognises the efforts and career progression of apprentices working in the furnishing industry and is open to anyone studying and working towards a retail, manufacture or service apprenticeship at a UK furnishing company. 

The judges of the award were Dr Tony Smart MBE, Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company; Paul von der Heyde, chairman of the Manufacturing Guild Mark; Karen Clarridge, HR manager at Whitemeadow; Julie Dix, training and development manager at Silentnight Brands; and Caroline Gascoigne, learning and development manager at DFS. 

The winners will officially be presented with the award at the Company’s annual Royal Charter Dinner on Thursday 26 October 2017 at the Hall of the Honourable Artillery Company, London.

Paul von der Heyde, chairman of the Manufacturing Guild Mark, says: “On behalf of The Furniture Makers’ Company, I would like to congratulate Jade and Liam for their outstanding progress to date. All of the candidates were of an extremely high quality. It’s fantastic to meet a group of such committed young people who are working hard and seeing the results of their work pay off. 

“With the Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer Apprenticeship Standard given ministerial approval last year and the new Apprenticeship Levy now in force, there has never been a better time for a company to invest in an apprenticeship programme.” 

Joint winner Jade Ansell says: “I am overwhelmed to have been shortlisted and named joint winner for the Apprentice Award. I would like to thank Silentnight for believing in me and investing in my future and my tutors at Burnley College who have always been so supportive. This is a great honour and fantastic recognition of my work.” 

Julie Dix, training and development manager at Silentnight Brands, says: “We couldn’t be more proud of Jade for winning this award. Jade’s commitment to a career in the furniture industry was evident from her first day. She initially joined Silentnight as an agency worker on a temporary contract, having left the security of a full time, permanent role elsewhere. Her ability and enthusiasm were immediately evident, so when she applied for our apprenticeship programme it was clear that she would be an ideal candidate. She is a shining example of an apprentice determined to make the most of the opportunity.” 

Joint winner Liam Field says: “Being shortlisted for the Apprentice Award and making the last seven was a proud moment for me and a great experience. Going on to win the award is a great honour and the whole process exceeded my expectations. To be recognised by a prestigious organisation, like The Furniture Makers’ Company fills me with pride and I’d like to thank my manager Ben Hamilton and The Senator Group for nominating me and giving me the chance to showcase my abilities.” 

Tony Berry, operations director – desking at The Senator Group, says: “We are absolutely delighted that Liam has won this prestigious award, which is fully deserved and testimony to his hard work. The Senator Group is proud of its apprentice programme, we currently have 36 apprentices in the business across a range of disciplines and we are in the process of recruiting 16 more this year. Many of our employees who have taken the apprentice route, now hold key roles within the organisation and will be able to influence the decision making as we continue to invest in sophisticated operations. Apprenticeships provide young people with the opportunity to express and excel and we firmly believe that investing and developing in our apprentices is essential for our future success.”