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based spark Gavin Richardson has been busy ever since, turning his Apprentice of the Year win into a business career. Today he co-owns and runs OPUS Building Services – a Tyne and Wear based electrical, mechanical and data contracting firm he set up in 2006 with business partner Ian King. For Gavin, winning the ECA Edmundson Apprentice of the Year award was the starting point for where he is today: ‘Winning an award as an apprentice provides future employers with a glimpse at the quality and dedication of the individual. It has been a great springboard for my career – my employer at the time, ABB Stewart, authorised further education for me to undertake a Higher National Degree.’ Satisfying his business brain and with the future in mind, Gavin is in the final year of an MBA at Newcastle University, where he is formally gaining knowledge of the ins and outs of managing a business. And it doesn’t stop there; this year Gavin’s firm has opened a specialist renewable energy services arm, the aptly named ‘OPUS GREEN, together with co-owner and co- director Chris Cassells.

it says a great deal about the pride a company has in its workforce and the maintenance of quality standards.

The ECA Edmundson Awards Our industry has many award schemes that recognise both exceptional trainees, and the training providers and employers who shape their development. These events help define overall industry standards and recognise individual performance, but their true value is in cultivating the potential of the type of talent the industry wants to keep. ECA firms of all sizes and their employees have a

very strong record of success in apprentice awards. For the past 35 years, the ECA’s annual awards scheme, in partnership with Edmundson Electrical, has celebrated Apprentice of the Year winners from across the ECA membership, together with hundreds of regional runners- up across the country. Since last year, it also has a category for adult trainees. Being this well established, the comment is often

made that while the industry has changed dramatically over the period, the standard of individuals being put forward today remains as impressive as ever. Gordon Love, Managing Director of Edmundson Electrical says: ‘Each year we are delighted at the calibre of the candidates entering the Apprentice of the Year Award, with the overall winner being an outstanding role model for the industry.’ As the ECA Edmundson Awards gears up for its 36th

year, we take a look at where their top performance has led to for two of our former winners.

Gavin Richardson, managing director, OPUS Building Services.

ECA Edmundson Apprentice of the Year 1997 He wowed the judges in 1997, and Sunderland-

42 ECA Today Winter 2010

Below: Andrew Hosier, ECA Edmundson Apprentice of the Year 2010 (second right); Edmundsons director Gordon Love (left); Adult Apprentice of the Year Lianne Edwards (second left); and ECA president Diane Johnson (right)

Above: Gavin Richardson, ECA Edmunson Apprentice of the Year winner 1997 – now man- aging director of OPUS

An environment of skills development and training is part of the scheme of things at OPUS. Employing a total workforce today of 63, Gavin continues the apprentice hiring tradition, and has four electrical apprentices and four adult trainees, either qualified or training to qualify. In 2009, his apprentice Matthew Ware was the North Eastern regional winner of the ECA Edmundson Awards (one of ten runners-up), suggesting Gavin might not be far off producing a successor to his 1997 title.

Andrew Hosier, Installation Electrician, W.T. Parker Ltd. ECA Edmundson Apprentice of the Year 2010 The current holder of the ECA Apprentice of the Year title is Andrew Hosier, who is employed by WT Parker, part of the WT Parker Group, which is based in Staffordshire. The company specialises in electrical and mechanical building services. Andrew stood out for all the right reasons in this year’s competition, because the judging panel felt he had the exact qualities of personality and ambition to build on the

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