Inspirational Apprentice of the Year, 2021

Graham Fretwell

YMCA Horticulture Apprentice, Graham Fretwell from Doncaster, earns ‘Inspirational Apprentice of the Year, 2021’ at this year’s YMCA Apprenticeship Awards. 

Graham is relatively new to his apprenticeship in Horticulture but has overcome significant barriers in his life to be able to take on apprenticeship with Central YMCA and his employer Flourish Enterprises.  This special award is given to recognise and celebrate his inspirational story. 

Graham left school without any formal qualifications and says that he went through a difficult period where he experienced homelessness and was supported by Central YMCA’s under 16’s provision. Graham says that it was through the support offered by Central YMCA that he was able to secure his dream job as a gardener and support worker with Flourish Enterprises in Doncaster. Through Flourish and Central YMCA, Graham is now progressing well with his Horticulture Apprenticeship. 

“I work at Flourish in Doncaster, and I have been here for about 3 years now. My story is that I left school with no qualifications and went into the under-16s YMCA programme and from there I progressed upwards – there has been some ups and downs but eventually I got the job, my dream job.” – Graham

Graham is dyslexic and colour blind, despite having limited confidence in his IT skills before starting the programme he has learned to use speak and type programmes and audio to help him read through his learning and to complete his vocational skills and knowledge work. Graham has two young children of his own and is also a carer for his elderly grandparent who he visits every night on his way home from work.

In the past year Graham has suffered the loss of a close family member and says that the support of his employer and Central YMCA have helped him come through this very difficult and challenging period.

“When I found out that I had won this award I felt really good in myself, I actually achieved something, I never would expect anything like this.” – Graham