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Great Britain

Apprentice who overcame tough childhood to excel in construction up for national award

AN apprentice bricklayer has been nominated for a national award after battling through adversity to create a bright future for himself.

Joshua Smith, a construction apprentice at Bradford College, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2018 Young Builder of the Year Awards.

The 17-year-old left school with just one GCSE, but has battled and overcome personal barriers to excel in his chosen field, which has been recognised by his nomination.

Josh, from Queensbury, will go up against seven other 14 to 18-year-olds from across the country in the awards, with the winner being revealed next Wednesday in a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament.

The Young Builder of the Year Awards celebrate the achievements of young people who have succeeded in training for or gaining employment in the construction industry despite having to overcome personal challenges.

Josh had a troubled upbringing, with a difficult home life and behavioural issues meaning he was often excluded from lessons, resulting in him leaving school with just one low-level GCSE.

He convinced Martin Hargreaves at Archcraft Builders to offer him an apprenticeship when he left school, and Josh has turned his life around and is excelling on the bricklaying course at Bradford College.

He has won an inter-college contest, and placed fourth in a Yorkshire-wide competition.

Josh said: “I was brought up in an environment where there were issues with drugs and crime

“This created behavioural issues at school and I was excluded from most lessons because of my conduct and was considered a distraction.

“I struggled to learn because I wasn’t allowed in classes and was told constantly that I would never achieve anything or get a job which meant I had very low self-esteem.

“My mother was also diagnosed with cancer while I was at school, which affected me emotionally.

“I would really like to thank her for pushing me to reach to goals and helping me through the tough times.”

College tutor Joe Lumb nominated Josh for the award, and will travel to London with him for the ceremony.

He added: “I was unaware of the difficulties Josh had to overcome until recently when he confided in me as his tutor.

“I understand that he had problems gaining employment but his commitment, attitude and continuing development has proved to his employer that he made the correct decision when he gave Josh a chance to prove himself.

“Josh will do well in construction and I believe despite his past his future is bright.

“He is a very reliable and studious young man and is focused on his future development. He achieves distinctions on a regular basis and takes pride in his work.

“His attitude towards tutors is respectful and he takes on board advice and guidance to improve his work and future.

“Josh produces brickwork of a very good standard and I have encouraged him to stretch and challenge his development and train for competition bricklaying, which he has done successfully. His commitment is exemplary.”

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