A 19-year-old woman working at the Hinckley branch of the plumbing and heating supplier Pochin has won a prestigious new award.
Gina Bennett, who lives in Hinckley, was nominated by the Builders’ Merchants Federation (BMF) as the winner of the Trade Supplier Apprentice of the Year award.
Bennett, who arrived as a new apprentice at Pochin a year ago, received the award during the annual City & Awards Lunch in London held by the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants
Joining her at Grocers’ Hall were Joe Keogh, her manager at Pochin’s Hinckley trade counter, and Pochin’s sales director Pete Trickett.
Trickett said: “From first meeting Gina it was clear she stood out a mile. She comes across brilliantly, is very capable and has done remarkably well. Gina handles any situation and is a real credit to herself.
“Plumbing and heating is a very male dominated trade, but Gina is not fazed by that at all and is very positive at all times.
Bennett, who studied at Hinckley Academy and then Leicester College, said: “I knew I wanted to be an apprentice but not in an office role, I wanted to be meeting and working with lots of people.
“The year has flown by. I love everyone I work with and that includes our customers. At Pochin we develop great relationships with our customers as we see them so often.
“There is still a lot to learn – Pochin stocks so many different products and parts – but when my apprenticeship finishes in a few months I hope Pochin will want to keep me on.
“It was a Monday morning when I was told I had won the award, which was a great way to start a working week. It was a massive surprise.”
Pochin also has apprentices at its HQ site in Leicester and at Market Harborough and Corby. Trickett said: “We want to take on more, including in Leicester and Newark, and we’re forging connections with colleges and sixth forms to find the next star apprentice.”
Bennett said: “I would recommend other young people look into a merchant’s apprenticeship, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
She is one of the first cohort of apprentices working and studying towards the trade supplier apprenticeship which was developed by the BMF and the Electrical Distributors Association to encourage more young people into the sector.
The apprentices, including Bennett, are being assessed on how they deal with people, handle deliveries, control stock, manage orders, develop technical knowledge and build relationships with colleagues and customers.