Nominated for the commitment he has demonstrated to his work, academic studies and the wider community, Lewis Kempson was last night voted the winner of the Outstanding Apprentice of the Year (Engineering, Manufacturing, Energy & Electrical) at the Gloucestershire Live Apprenticeship Awards 2021. Exemplary marks in his NVQ diploma and examples of taking the initiative at work are complemented by volunteering to engage in community outreach programmes.

From a young age, Lewis had a passion for military aviation, possibly influenced by his father who has a long career as a helicopter engineer. As a teenager in the RAF air cadets, Lewis gained his first exposure to flying, alongside sports and adventure training – an experience that encouraged him to pursue a career in the Royal Marines. After two years in the Royal Marines as a recruit, injury forced Lewis to leave, with his dreams shattered around him.

Confronting his disappointment, Lewis decided to pick himself up and look for an apprenticeship so he could pursue further academic qualifications while simultaneously gaining experience. As key suppliers of propeller systems to military forces around the world, an apprenticeship at Dowty Propellers was the perfect choice for him.

Says Lewis, ‘My apprenticeship has given me invaluable experience in learning about product and processes and the opportunity to work with a variety of people and departments. The combination of learning and working offers a rounded package that works very well and is a route that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to upskill, no matter what age you are’

Lewis demonstrates a strong sense of community representing Dowty Propellers at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) educational activities and schools careers fairs. In addition, Lewis volunteered to take the training and join the Dowty team of Mental Health First Aiders who offer support and guidance to colleagues who may be suffering from mental health challenges. ‘Having suffered some setbacks myself, I appreciated the support I received at that time and wanted to give back by helping people and feeling like I could make a difference to other people’s lives’, says Lewis.

One stand-out contribution from Lewis exceeded anything that would be expected of a second-year apprentice. Following a devastating fire at Dowty’s headquarters and manufacturing facility, the business relocated to Gloucester Business Park at the end of 2019; a complex, detailed task. Lewis project-managed this move for one of the Dowty manufacturing teams; he developed and executed a transition plan, demonstrated good communication skills, flexibility, a sense of humour and led a team far more advanced in years and experience than himself. Moreover, he delivered the project in half the time, four weeks early, saving the company considerable costs.

Lewis has recently gained his NVQ diploma Level 3 in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering with a distinction. All that remains to complete his apprenticeship is his professional registration. Lewis is currently working in Dowty’s Resin Transfer Moulding section where he is ‘learning a lot about a complicated process’, which will help him as he awaits an appropriate opening in Manufacturing Engineering. Keen to pursue further academic study, Lewis has just embarked on a BEng in Product Design, a five-year degree course that combines working at Dowty with one day a week at University of West England (UWE).