APPRENTICES and employers were honoured at an awards evening.

Bridgwater & Taunton College held their annual Apprenticeships Awards Evening at The McMillan Theatre.

This year saw 15 of the 3,000 apprentices studying at the college and 16 of the 1,400-plus employers shortlisted for gongs across 10 categories.

Eddie Rant, director of utilities at the evening's sponsor, Wessex Water, was the first guest speaker.

“Each of the nominees tonight should be proud of their achievements," he said.

"You are the generation who are going to change perceptions; your achievements will pave the way for apprenticeships to be recognised with the respect and esteem which you deserve.

"I would like to wish you all the best of luck, not only for tonight, but for the future. You really are good for business."

Michael Jones, manufacturing engineering apprenticeship at Thales UK, took The Higher/Degree Level Apprentice of the Year Award.

Michael started his career young, becoming professionally registered as an Engineering Technician at age 17.

He is very ambitious in his studies and is already far exceeding the expectations of his employer, and Thales are confident he will continue to implement his learning and influence others with his excellent professionalism.

M-CNC took the Small Employer of the Year award.

As a local, family-run business, they offer more than 30 years’ experience in the engineering industry to apprentices.

Bylor were awarded the Large Employer of the Year Award for their high quality apprenticeship opportunities to the local, regional and national population on an unprecedented scale for a construction project.

The Apprentice Advocate Award went to an apprentice that continually champions the Apprenticeship programme, proactively promoting it alongside their role in their organisation. Samuel Winchester was delighted to win this award.

The Overall Employer of the Year 2018 was Thatchers. Thatchers are extremely passionate about developing talent and have created a Young Talent Programme. This initiative has the specific objective of creating an industry leading programme that not only created apprenticeship and graduate roles but also inspired and educated young people about the food and drink industry.

Andy Berry, principal of Bridgwater & Taunton College concluded the evening, closed the ceremony with a speech detailing his own journey, which began as an electrical apprentice.

“There are many avenues and routes an apprenticeship can take you," he said.

"We couldn't do it without our amazing employer partnerships and our hardworking, dedicated staff who go the extra mile to support our apprentices and employers.

"Our apprentices work so hard, not only when they're in the workplace but also studying hard for their qualifications.

"We could not be prouder tonight and are thrilled to celebrate your successes with you."

The evening was sponsored by Wessex Water and award sponsors included BAM, Bylor, EDF, Learning Curve Group, Konica Minolta, Edwards Engineering, The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and The National College for Nuclear - Southern Hub.