FORMER high school students from Flintshire and Wrexham were among those receiving the highest honours at an aerospace awards ceremony.
More than 80 men and women were recognised for completing three-year apprenticeships at Airbus’s wings factory in Broughton.
Successful employees were recognised at a ceremony at Chester Racecourse, which took place during the seventh National Apprenticeship Week.
Alex Birbeck, 21, of Buckley, and Chris Ecclestone, 23, of Wrexham, were two of just three individuals nominated as Apprentice of the Year 2013.
And, despite ultimately losing out on the top prize, Alex, a former student of Argoed High School and Mold Alun School and Chris, who went to Ysgol Clywedog, both were recognised with awards for outstanding achievement during their higher engineering apprenticeships from the Worshipful Livery Company
Alex was also recognised as the best performing apprentice for the third year of an apprenticeship.
Airbus’s highly sought-after apprenticeship programmes last three years and combine college or university studies with practical training at the Flintshire base.
And at the event, which was attended by deputy minister for skills and technology Ken Skates, AM, Flintshire Council cabinet member for education, Cllr Chris Bithell, and former Deeside MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Lord Barry Jones, apprentices from across the region were praised for their commitment, skills and hard work.
Airbus UK’s general manager Mark Stewart praised the apprentices’ part in the firm’s global success.
He said: “None of this would be possible without the talent, skill and expertise of the people who work for Airbus. Many of you have gone into schools encouraging young people to follow in your footsteps.
“You are true ambassadors of the company.”
Nine special awards were presented on the night, including those for outstanding achievement and those producing the best performance in years one, two and three of an apprenticeship.
Overall Apprentice of the Year 2013 was awarded to Dan Holland, from Birkenhead.