Ulverston apprentices dedicate national award to Josh and his legacy

15 June 2017 6:30PM

A GROUP of young ambassadors crowned the UK Apprentice Team of the Year have dedicated their national award win to the late Ulverston lad who inspired their emotional health awareness campaign.

The team from GSK Ulverston won the national finals of the Brathay Apprentice Challenge 2017.

The 18 to 23-year-olds devised an asthma awareness campaign to honour the legacy of the late Josh West, of Ulverston. The talented footballer died in April last year following an asthma attack, days before his 12th birthday.

With the support and involvement of Josh's parents and medics, the GSK apprentices created a touching campaign video sharing Josh's story and important messages that could save a life.

The team of nine apprentices have presented their campaign video in secondary schools and to youth and sports groups. The campaign is to continue long after the Brathay Apprentice Challenge, as the apprentices and Josh's family want to spread the vital information far and wide, with the platform of the national award.

Sam Coulson, 19, of Ulverston, put forward the idea of creating a campaign in Josh's memory.

The second-year GSK Ulverston manufacturing apprentice, said: “We dedicate this trophy in memory of Josh West for whom we carried out our asthma awareness campaign project.

“We were all inspired by Josh’s story to do something different and so came up with the idea of an awareness raising campaign to show how asthma affects the daily lives of millions of people in the UK.

“The idea was a good fit for the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. We’re absolutely thrilled that all our hard work has paid off and that we have won the overall title, even more so when the campaign has become a bigger local cause, not only for the group but for many others too.”

Josh's parents, Lee West and Nicola Lancaster, are delighted for the apprentices and proud that the team dedicated the national title to their late son.

Josh was no stranger to silverware with his successes as a goalkeeper. He always told his parents he would be famous and his family are proud that the campaign is honouring Josh's legacy and that the sharing of his story could save a life. They also say being part of a campaign like this would mean the world to Josh.

The apprentices and GSK Ulverston bosses received a heartening message of congratulation from Josh's family which left them in tears.

Mr West said: "I'm so grateful and proud of you all. There have been times where the sky was dark with no light. We started doing bits to remember Josh and thought we would be the only ones. Then this idea popped up. You and your team started a dream. You and your team have made that dream a reality. All of your hard work and all of your efforts have paid off. Champions. We can't thank you enough and I'll be honest I have only just stopped crying. I can try to put into words what it means to us as a family, but I can't. Me, Nic and Billy are so proud of you for helping, so proud of your team for making it happen. Thank you all so much."

Terry Sandham, the apprentice programme manager at GSK Ulverston, said the team are "so honoured" with the legacy they are helping to create for Josh.

Mr Sandham said: “The group thoroughly deserve their success in becoming the top apprentice team in the UK. They put together an amazing Brathay Apprentice Challenge campaign submission, especially in the closing few weeks when the pressure was really on.

“They could not have worked any harder to achieve what they have done, and to watch their development and how they have and excelled has been a real privilege. It’s a great achievement for all involved to win this top award and we’re delighted that they have been recognised for their efforts.

“Our apprentices make a big impact for GSK Ulverston and our local communities. Our apprenticeship programmes help us to build a diverse workforce and develop talented people to help ensure patients and consumers all over the world have access to our products. It’s why we continue to invest in our apprentices and offer them a challenging and rewarding experience with future career prospects.”

Joe Hambley, 21, a GSK Ulverston mechanical engineering apprentice and team chairman for the Brathay Apprentice Challenge, congratulated his teammates and thanked them, his GSK managers, Josh's family and all the supporters.

Joe said the win can show how strong apprenticeships are in Cumbria.

The team chairman said the asthma awareness campaign has "legs to make it travel" and the legacy for Josh West and helping save a life is "better than any trophy".

The winning GSK Ulverston apprentice team are: Joe Hambley, Ted Jackson, Owen Rice, Madigan Long, Sam Coulson, Aidan Huddleston, James Turner, Kelly Stokes and Danyelle Haines.

The Brathay Apprentice Challenge is the search for the apprentice team of the year, supported by the National Apprenticeship Service.

As well as the asthma campaign, the apprentices organised a programme of business breakfasts for local employers and work with schools to promote apprenticeships. The Brathay Apprentice Challenge 2017 finals involved a series of separate team events at Brathay, on the shores of Windermere. They included an adventure challenge and a "Whaler" time trial on the water. The GSK Ulverston apprentices competed against seven other teams from around the country to emerge as the overall winners.

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