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West Lothian apprentice wins top prize at APSE Awards

West Lothian Council apprentice, Calum Melrose picked up the honour of Horticulture Apprentice of the Year at a glittering ceremony for the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards.

26 November
Calum Melrose APSE

Callum, who is in the second year of a Modern Apprenticeship programme within West Lothian Council's Operational Services, was selected as winner ahead of fellow apprentices at the prestigious event in Nottingham.

The journey to being selected as winner is a daunting one.

418 Councils across the UK were eligible to enter with over 40 submissions coming in for the Horticulture Apprentice of the year category alone before a judging panel narrowed it down to four finalists.

In order to be considered, entrants had to register their interest before submitting a comprehensive portfolio.

There are strict guidelines issued by APSE concerning the portfolio content including: a personal statement covering the apprentice's interest in this field, any barriers they have faced and details of their own personal, short, medium & long term goals;

The portfolio must also include examples of projects undertaken with photographic evidence; copies of progress reviews; training provider's progress reports and references from the entrants' workplace and training provider. Details of the individual's training plan and breakdown of the apprentice's training achievements must also be provided.

The completed Portfolio is then submitted to APSE and then graded by an expert in the chosen field, who shortlist a group of finalists. 

Selected finalists are then required to attend a panel interview covering all aspects of the apprentice's work.

Speaking about the overall experience, Calum said: "I'm delighted to have won this award. The process was very demanding but knowing that others have faith in me and the fact that I was able to convey my understanding of horticulture at my panel interview and showcase my ability leaves me with the best feeling of all. I'd like to thank everyone who has supported me since the beginning of my apprenticeship and I hope to continue to develop my skills whilst gaining further experience."

Calum is part of the sports field maintenance team based at Polkemmet Country Park where his main duties include maintenance to the Country Park and golf course.

The 22 year old undertakes various different tasks throughout his working day including: raking bunkers on the golf course, cutting the golf greens, fairways and tee's using various types of machinery; measure marking football and rugby pitches; maintaining artificial surfaces (4Gs and Astroturf pitches) and the maintenance of bowling greens.

Calum has also been tasked with the planting and upkeep of the flower beds at war memorials throughout West Lothian.

As part of Calum's apprenticeship he is required to complete work placements across various departments within NETS Land and Countryside, this includes burial and maintenance work at cemeteries, carrying out all servicing & maintenance to machinery amongst other tasks.

Calum has become a valuable member of the team over the duration of his apprenticeship and during this time has even taken on a team leader role for two weeks.

This included giving out daily tasks to team members and making sure all work was completed to the required standard.

Calum's squad leader, Stuart McDonald is himself a former apprentice who has been able to provide sound advice and guidance for Calum.

He said: "Calum deserves huge Credit for his achievements over the last year. His contribution and effort from day one has been exceptional. Calum's day to day mentors also deserve credit for their efforts in helping Calum achieve this award. Congratulations Calum."

West Lothian Council head of operational services, Jim Jack congratulated Calum on his win saying: "The council has a long tradition of working with young people, bringing them through apprenticeships and equipping them with the tools to move on to have successful careers. This is a fantastic accolade for Calum and a testament to the work he puts in on a daily basis as part of his apprenticeship. He should be proud of his achievement in picking up this national award and I hope he continues to enjoy success as he completes the remainder of his apprenticeship with operational services."

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