Celebrating our Learners at the Education & Training Awards 2024

13 March 2024

Central YMCA Education & Training Awards 2024 was an evening of celebration for our learners, apprentices, and employer partners who have gone above and beyond this past year.

Themed ‘Supporting the Pathways to Success’, the event was held on Monday 4 March 2024 at the House of Commons and was organised in partnership with Aptem and St Giles London. We would like to extend a special thank you to our host for the evening, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, as well as our guest speakers and presenters — Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Rt Hon Dame Rosie Winterton MP, Peter Aldous MP, Isla Lightfoot of Aptem, and Andrew Elliott of St Giles.

Congratulations to our six winners whose stories you can learn more about below.

  • Apprentice of the Year - Ellise Norkett
  • Employer of the Year - Oscar Bears Day Care
  • Apprentice Progression of the Year - Paige Kinder
  • Inspirational Apprentice of the Year - Lee
  • Learner Progression of the Year - Ava Walker
  • Inspirational Learner of the Year - Lucas George 


Learn more about our winners:

Apprentice of the Year - Ellise Norkett

Ellise is currently working on her Level 3 Early Years Educator Apprenticeship. She was referred to the programme after completing her Level 2 Early Years Practitioner qualification, also with Central YMCA, earning a distinction on the MCQ exam and a pass in professional discussion. Through her apprenticeship experience, Ellise has experienced an incredible increase in her confidence levels!

Ellise is on track to complete her Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification and is aiming for a distinction in both MCQ and professional discussion. Upon completion of her programme, she would love to pursue her dream of working as a Nanny.

Learn more about Ellise’s story.


Employer of the Year - Oscar Bears Day Care

Oscar Bears Day Care is a family-run nursery and preschool located in a rural setting in West Sussex. They work with children from the age of 0 to 5 and currently have a team of 17 staff members, including apprentices.

The organisation prides itself on the happiness and wellbeing of their staff, and this also extends to the apprentices who work with Oscar Bears Day Care. Apprentices are guaranteed a permanent role once they complete their apprenticeship, which helps them see a clear career progression. By way of example, two of their former apprentices, Tawny and Georgina, now manage the setting.

Learn more about the Oscar Bears Day Care story.


Apprentice Progression of the Year - Paige Kinder

Paige has completed several programmes since starting with Central YMCA in 2020, beginning with the Level 1 Study Programme in Lowestoft and most recently completing her Lead Adult Care Worker Level 3 this past September with distinction while working at Eastview Residential Home.

Paige has quickly moved through the ranks of the care home from Carer to Senior to Team Leader and now Deputy Manager. Paige also went above and beyond during the pandemic, taking on additional responsibilities while completing her coursework.

Paige is now looking into next steps to progress further in her field while continuing her career at Eastview. She is considering working toward a Level 4 Health in Social Care – Lead Practitioner Standard.

Learn more about Paige’s story.


Inspirational Apprentice of the Year - Lee

Lee completed an apprenticeship at Fitness4Less gym and a qualification in Customer Service this past November, earning a distinction. She enrolled in the programme after being referred by her manager at Fitness4Less.

In the future, Lee would love to progress further in her education and career with an apprenticeship in Team Leading. A Domestic violence survivor, she also wants to take everything she has learned to support other women who have been the victims of domestic violence by offering free resistance band training and exercise classes at women’s refuge centres.

Learn more about Lee’s story.


Learner Progression of the Year - Ava Walker

Ava has completed several courses with Central YMCA, beginning with the Pre-16 programme in Doncaster and most recently earning her Level 2 Certificate in Introducing Caring for Children and Young People.

Ava is now attending Doncaster College and working towards a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care with the goals of going to university and studying to become a midwife.

Learn more about Ava’s story.


Inspirational Learner of the Year - Lucas George

Lucas is part of the HITZ programme, playing with the Harlequins in Twickenham and working toward his BTEC Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development. 

As a result of the HITZ programme, Lucas has been enrolled onto RFU Level 2 Coaching Qualification and was given the opportunity to speak with a Performance Analyst from Super Rugby team Moana Pasifika. 

Following his course, Lucas has ambitions to become a professional rugby coach. His tutors have helped him create a plan of action, and he’s more determined than ever to continue his education as he can see the opportunities that come with it.

Learn more about Lucas’s story.


We are proud to be one of the country’s leading education, health, and wellbeing charities, and our Education and Training division has been an important part of the Central YMCA mission since the late 1970s. Since their inception, our educational and apprenticeship programmes have had a positive impact on the lives of many young people, including more than 700 last year. Our programmes help learners gain qualifications and hands-on experience in their chosen field while offering an alternative to traditional classroom education.

Learn more about our education and apprenticeship programmes here.