Uckfield farrier Declan Emmerson has won an outstanding apprentice award from the Warwickshire College Group.
The 25-year-old studied for his farriery apprenticeship at Moreton Morrell College in Warwick and is now running his own business.
He joined apprentices from a range of businesses from dental nursing to bricklaying, and engineering at businesses large and small for a graduation and awards ceremony on December 8.
More than 2,000 apprentices train with the Warwickshire College Group each year and the ceremony was the first to be held for apprentices.
Angela Joyce, group principal and chief executive officer of WCG said it was the culmination of the group’s long-held ambition to recognise and reward apprentices in the same way as those who had studied for a degree.
Declan was winner of the Land-based Industry Outstanding Apprentice Award and he said: “I started off wanting to be a blacksmith but I love horses and working outdoors to decided to do the farriery apprenticeship.
“I’m not hugely academic, I struggled a bit at school but practically I’m very capable, so in doing an apprenticeship I was able to do what I loved, but also get the academic qualification alongside.
“It was brilliant to receive the award – that’s definitely one for the mantlepiece.
“I’m running my own farriery business now and want to continue to build that up and eventually take on my own apprentice.”