Ignite Sport > News and Blogs > Ignite Sport UK apprentice George James steals the show at virtual Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards ceremony

Ignite Sport UK apprentice George James was successful in two categories at last night’s virtual Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards ceremony. 

George, 17, who has a medical diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome, won the Special Recognition prize sponsored by Popham Hairdressing for overcoming significant challenges and barriers to learning or work.  

Winning the Special Recognition award meant George was automatically listed for the prestigious Oxfordshire Apprentice of the Year prize which concluded the ceremony.  

After much deliberation, judges decided to crown two Apprentice of the Year champions. George lifted his second prize of the evening jointly with Emilia Reyes Pabon, an apprentice technician scientist at the University of Oxford.  

Ignite Sport UK General Manager Hannah Bladen was also recognised on the night, earning highly commended in the Apprenticeship Champion Award. The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of apprentices and apprenticeship providers in the last 12 months.  

Louise Merritt, Operations Director at Ignite Sport UK, said: “We’d like to extend our congratulations to all winners and finalists at this year’s Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards ceremony.  

“It’s important we recognise and celebrate the achievements of apprentices across Oxfordshire during what has been a particularly difficult year for many people. We are especially pleased for George and Hannah who fully deserved to have their hard work recognised. Apprenticeships are an excellent way for people to develop and for businesses to grow. 

“George has grown into a confident and mature young man during his time with Ignite Sport UK. He has proven himself to be an excellent role model to other young people facing adversity.  

“Hannah has been exceptionally committed to her role during the pandemic and helped us provide people with the best possible apprenticeship experience. Well done to George and Hannah and everyone associated with the ceremony, it was a great evening.”  

George completed an apprenticeship in Community Coaching with Ignite Sport UK in September 2020.  

He worked alongside qualified staff to deliver PE lessons and community sports coaching opportunities in Oxfordshire. His main deployment setting was at Langford Village Primary School in Bicester where he worked four afternoons per week delivering PE and after school sports clubs.  

George also delivered after-school clubs every Monday at New Marston Primary School and multi-sport clubs and football skills camps to children aged four to 12 during the school holidays.  

His apprenticeship journey did not end upon the completion of his Community Coaching programme. Later this year, the keen cricketer will complete his second apprenticeship in Customer Service with Oxford City Football Club.  

Hannah Bladen, General Manager of Ignite Sport UK, added: “Apprenticeships are a wonderful way for people to gain experience and develop careers and the awards help highlight their value. I’d encourage anyone who is interested in a vocational career to consider an apprenticeship and get in touch.  

“I am so pleased for George, his strength and determination to succeed epitomises the values we reiterate to people we work with daily.  

“No matter what was put in front of him, George has always given everything 100 per cent and has naturally developed his confidence and become a vocal and bubbly member of the Ignite team.  

“He has followed his passion for sport, found an apprenticeship, gave it his heart and sole and now has a strong career path ahead of him.”  

Other winners on the night were:  

Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Ltd: School Engagement Employer Award. 

Nathan Jarvis: Higher Apprentice Award. 

Emilia Reyes Pabon: Advanced Apprentice Award.  

Mia Bowles: Intermediate Apprentice Award.  

George James: Special Recognition Award.  

University of Oxford: Large Employer Award.  

Electrogenic Ltd: Small Employer Award.  

Barry Preston: Shining Star Award.  

Becky Elsworth: Apprenticeship Champion Award.  

Emilia Reyes Pabon and George James: Apprentice of the Year. 

Congratulations to everyone!   

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