Nelson and Colne College Group hosted a prestigious awards ceremony last night at Accrington Stanley Football Club, celebrating the outstanding achievements of a number of Apprentices and their employers.  


The event, hosted by Membership Director at East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, renowned host, and former BBC Lancashire personality, Simon Brierley, brought Apprentices, Trainers, families, and industry leaders together to celebrate the transformative power of apprenticeships in Lancashire. 


The ceremony saw awards presented to Apprentices across a wide range of industries , by Lisa O’Loughlin, CEO and Principal of Nelson and Colne College Group, and Russ Haworth, Interim Chief Executive of Senior Aerospace Weston. Each of the winners and nominees were recognised for their outstanding dedication, resilience, and exceptional skills. 


Among those receiving a highly coveted award were: 

  • Jo Clayton, who was awarded the Business and Professional Services Apprentice of the Year, for embodying the values of her school and achieving remarkable results.  
  • Aaminah Abdulla recognised as the Childcare Apprentice of the Year for her proactive and caring approach in a school for learning difficulties.  
  • Holly Duffy, the big winner of the night, receiving both the Construction Apprentice of the Year award for her excellence in Painting and Decorating and the Overall Apprentice of the Year.  

Holly has had a series of successes recently, having won the CDA (Construction Development Alliance) Young Apprentice of the Year Award, as well as representing her College nationally in the PDA (Painting and Decorating Awards) Competition. 


“I feel amazing. I am only 8 months into my apprenticeship and have achieved so much. Both my employers at Spain Building and Maintenance and the staff at Accrington and Rossendale College have been incredibly supportive and I owe a lot of this success to them” said Holly, when asked about her recent achievements.  


Other winners included:  

  • Tom Novak, Engineering Apprentice of the Year 
  • Lauren Trimmer, Hairdressing and Beauty Apprentice of the Year 
  • Clare Butcher, Health and Social Care Apprentice of the Year 
  • Ellie Jones, Hospitality and Catering Apprentice of the Year 
  • Shelley Gill, Leadership and Management Apprentice of the Year 
  • Jamie Stinton, Motor Vehicle Apprentice of the Year. 


The apprentice focussed part of the ceremony culminated with the presentation of the Rising Star Award, which recognised Sam Farnworth for overcoming challenges and significantly improving his work during his apprenticeship.  

The contribution of employers towards the development of these future industry stars did not go unnoticed either, as employer awards were celebrated across a number of categories. The companies recognised were:  

  • LCC Hillside Specialist School, Childcare Employer of the Year 
  • Spain Building and Maintenance, Construction Employer of the Year 
  • Bright Engineering Precision Product LTD, Engineering Employer of the Year 
  • Neon Noir Hair Spa, Professional and Creative Services Employer of the Year 
  • LCC Burnley Day Services, Health and Social Care Employer of the Year. 


Following the awards Gill Acquilina, Head of Apprenticeships at NCCG, said “Employers are so important within apprenticeships, ensuring that our learners gain the valuable experience of being in a real working environment whilst receiving mentorship from passionate industry leaders who genuinely care about their workforce. It was our privilege to honour these employers for their fantastic contributions to the apprenticeship programme over the last 12 months.” , . 



Russ Haworth joined host Simon Brierley on stage to close the evening with an inspiring look at how apprenticeships have shaped his career, and the companies in which he has worked over the years. Highlighting the phenomenal impact that investing in apprenticeships can have Russ congratulated all the nominees and winners and wished them all well as they continued to make great strides within their chosen industries. 


The importance of apprenticeships was also highlighted by Lisa O’Loughlin, the Principal and Chief Executive of Nelson and Colne College Group, who acknowledged the significance of apprenticeships in shaping the future workforce for the local area, stating: “This is a celebration of the exceptional dedication of both apprentices and employers, whose efforts have not only enriched their own lives and organisations but also contributed to the growth and prosperity of the community and industries.” 


The event was a true celebration of the dedication and success of apprentices and their employers, inspiring all attendees to continue fostering a culture of learning, growth, and excellence.  


For more information about Nelson and Colne College Group and their apprenticeship programmes, please visit their website at, or call our friendly admissions team on 01282 440370.