We’re proud to report that our fantastic grounds maintenance apprentice, Jay-Anne McCabe, was named runner-up in the ‘Intermediate Apprentice of the Year’ category at the Skills for Business Awards this week.

Jay-Anne was bored working in a shop before applying to become our first female grounds maintenance apprentice in September 2014. She hasn’t looked back since. Her job includes using different tools and equipment to keep communal areas looking tidy, helping people with their communal allotments and gardening clubs, and giving older customers a hand with their gardens.

Jay-Anne said: “Before I started working here I would just have seen a patch of grass but now I look around and see what a difference I’ve made, or I could make given half a chance.

“At first I kept worrying what  people were thinking of me as a girl doing a job people are used to lads doing because I was the only girl in the team and on my course, but then I got here and felt like I belonged straight away; I thought ‘I can do this’ and I have done.”

“The apprenticeship has given me so many different opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise and you’re learning all the time from the people around you who are so supportive.”

Jay-Anne was shocked to hear her name called on the night given the tough competition in the category. She said: “I was over the moon to be shortlisted but getting the highly commended award made me feel even more proud of what I’ve achieved.

The judges praised Jay-Anne’s ‘desire to use initiative to make a difference and overcome adversity’ and said it was clear that she ‘goes above and beyond to fulfil her role’.

Mum, Janine, was there to see Jay-Anne pick up her award and said: “I’m just so proud of what she’s achieved. I don’t think even Jay-Anne knew where the apprenticeship could lead but with the support of her manager, Gary Power, and One Manchester, she’s gone out of her comfort zone and just keeps going forward in leaps and bounds.”

It’s onwards and upwards from here as Jay-Anne now hopes to do her Level Three in Horticulture and show other young women what they can achieve if they put their minds to it.

Jay-Anne added: “My goal when I started was just to stay in work but now I’m more confident and can see bigger opportunities. If I can do what I’ve done in two years, what can I achieve in the future?”