Selwood Housing Group, a local housing association based in Trowbridge, is delighted that plumber Hannah Oatley has won the Wiltshire Life Awards Apprentice of the Year award for 2020.
Hannah, from Chippenham, works for Silcoa, Selwood Housing’s repairs and maintenance company.
Hannah was 26 and working as a cleaner when she decided she wanted to earn more, so started to plan a different future. She searched for ‘well paid jobs’ online and found plumbing was one of the top results. She decided to apply for an apprenticeship, as being able to earn and learn at the same time meant she could meet her financial commitments.
Her apprenticeship course was undertaken at Wiltshire College & University Centre. Here, Hannah was able to access support, including with Maths and English, completing her course in record time.
Hannah attended college one day a week and spent the rest of the time working in a variety of teams within the ‘planned works’ department of Silcoa – who replace heating systems, kitchens and bathrooms.
Hannah said “My favourite part of the job is meeting our customers. Seeing before and after the work is completed in their homes is so satisfying.”
In June 2019 Silcoa managers were so impressed with Hannah that she moved into a full-time ‘improver’ role, extending her employment for another twelve months after her apprenticeship finished, allowing her to build up even more experience. This enabled her to have more financial freedom and to start horse riding again. She has since been taken on as a full-time, qualified plumber with Silcoa.
Kriss Nash, Silcoa contracts manager, said “We are so proud of Hannah. She is such a hard worker and has built up a full set of skills in a short amount of time. She really deserves this recognition.”
Stephen Gingell, Head of Department for Construction at Wiltshire College & University Centre said “The entire Construction department is very proud of Hannah’s achievement, which is really, well deserved.
When Hannah was at College she showed great commitment, enthusiasm and perseverance through all areas of her apprenticeship. These attributes make her a very competent plumber and she is a great asset to her employer and we are certain she will be extremely successful throughout her career.”
As well as this latest award, Hannah also won Intermediate Apprentice of the Year (South West) in the National Apprenticeships Awards 2019.
Less than 1% of the UK plumbing profession is female. While Hannah was the only woman on her course, she says “I’ve never had any grief from the guys. They don’t treat me differently because I’m a girl.”
Silcoa have since welcomed their second female apprentice plumber. Naomi Mills, a Selwood Housing customer, was so inspired by Hannah’s story she decided to take up the trade herself.
Anyone interested in an apprenticeship with Selwood Housing Group can find out more on our apprenticeships career page.