Ayrshire’s top apprentice for 2019 is Robbie McInnes out of fifty finalists shortlisted for the annual awards.

The 18-year-old process worker was presented with the Fergus Trophy and £1,000 at Irvine Incorporated Trades’ annual apprentice awards night last week.

Irvine Times: Winner Robbie McInnesWinner Robbie McInnes

Robbie, who works at the DSM in his hometown of Dalry, impressed a panel of judges from industry and commerce at a series of interviews during the Summer.

He told the audience: “I could never have thought this would happen when I was sitting at school two years ago. Not bad for a lad from the timber scheme in Dalry.”

Irvine Times: Second place Hope WelshSecond place Hope Welsh

Second this year was Hope Welsh, a 17-year-old sports development officer who lives and works in Kilmarnock. Her job with East Ayrshire Council involves the promotion of active leisure, learning and well-being at the level of schools and community.

Two apprentices tied for third place, each receiving a silver salver and £250. Sharing the honours were Lauren Gracie, a 22-year-old engineering apprentice from Maybole, and Liam Madden, a 20-year-old apprentice mechanic from Saltcoats.

Irvine Times: Third equal Lauren GracieThird equal Lauren Gracie

Liam was working for North Ayrshire Council at their Kilwinning Transport Hub when the candidates were being assessed but he has since moved to Mercedes.

Irvine Times: Third equal Liam Madden Third equal Liam Madden

Lauren works for SAS International, a company which manufactures bespoke architectural metalwork at a number of locations throughout the UK. She was the first female engineer to be taken on at the company’s factory in her home town.

The awards were presented by the Deacon Convener of Irvine Trades William Dickson, Late Convener Roddie Fraser and the 2018 winner Eoin Curtis of Ayr.

Compere for the evening was former grade one referee Willie Young.

Organiser Sir Brian Donohoe said: “Our aim has always been twofold – to highlight to school leavers the value of a career in industry and to encourage companies to reopen employment channels to young people.

“I have no doubt we have achieved that and, in three years, have firmly established this event in Ayrshire’s social calendar.”