Keele University apprentice among best in the region

Steve Lewis

Posted on 26 May 2010

A Keele University employee who moved from the kitchen to the sports field has been named a finalist in the West Midlands Apprenticeship Awards 2010.

Steve Lewis, of Clayton, began work at the University in 1982 as a chef in restaurants across campus. When the venue he worked in closed in July 2008, Steve took the opportunity to change direction and joined the estates team, maintaining the sports field.

The 44-year-old, who left school at 15 with no qualifications, took an NVQ in Sports and Amenities at Reaseheath College, studying alongside teenagers.

“At first it was like a foreign language and I found it quite difficult,” says the father-of-three, “but as I went on it all started to come together and I was able to apply what I was learning in the classroom to the job.

“Most of the other apprentices were in their teens and early twenties, but I felt accepted. If you go in with an open mind it really helps.”

Steve’s day to day role as a groundsperson involves everything from cutting the fields and litter picking, to marking out the pitches and putting out flags and goals.

“I’ve never regretted my change of direction,” he says, “even though I always liked being warm in the kitchen and now I’m outside in all weathers. I want to perfect my skills and then maybe go on to further learning.

“I was pleased to be nominated for the award and very surprised. Hopefully my kids have been inspired by my return to learning. An old dog can learn new tricks.”

The regional winner will be announced on Friday, June 18, at an event at the Birmingham Hippodrome hosted by TV presenter Suzanne Virdee and organised by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

The winners of the apprentice and employer categories will go forward to be judged against the best in the rest of England for the National Apprenticeship Awards to be handed out in London in July.