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apprenticeship award winners

February 6, 2024

Late last year we celebrated the achievements of our apprentices at our awards ceremony. The ceremony was filled with inspirational apprentices who were joined by their friends, family and employers. We though it time to share the nominations behind these exceptional candidates..

BPIF Training Apprentice of the Year

Mateusz Sapko, Blackmore


Mateusz, currently completing his Print Operative Level 2 Apprenticeship Standard was nominated for this award by Carol Wright. Carol gave overwhelming praise for Mateusz

“Over his time as an Apprentice, Mateusz has worked hard to become an essential part of the Digital Prepress Department. His reliability has impressed all of us and his quick mind has let him learn far more skills than was expected at a rate that was absolutely staggering.

From theory on colour management to practical skills of hand-processing hundreds of high-quality print products, there’s very little that he hasn’t been able to get to grips with in short order, and the dedication put in to mastering each aspect is genuinely impressive.

Mateusz has demonstrated great time management and considerable work ethic in his time here, with consistent hours put in for both his regular work and his BPIF coursework well in advance of deadlines. Every surprise that the job has thrown at him, Mateusz has handled with calm and quiet confidence, and many of the challenges that the department has faced would not have been possible without his hard work and perseverance.

One of the most impressive accomplishments of his time here is his participation in the appraisal of potential new machinery for the Digital Print room, and his assistance and quick training during the instalment of the Ricoh 9200 Digital Press purchased on the back of that appraisal. Not only was his input relevant and concise in the selection of the new device, his quick adjustment and retention of new information to smoothly transition from the old press to the new was instrumental to the improved running of the Digital side of the Digital Prepress Department.

I am proud to call him my colleague and I expect his career to be long and impressive.


Trade Apprentice of the Year

Archie Aston, AST Signs Ltd



Archie, shortlisted for the Apprentice of the year also, and currently working toward his Print Operative Apprenticeship was nominated for this award by Nici Hewiston who said of Archie,

Archie has shown great commitment to his development. He is extremely determined and absolutely will not be limited by cerebral palsy – in fact, Archie is taking this apprenticeship as an opportunity to let his real value and inner strength to shine – and he is a force to be reckoned with.

In terms of learning, he has a steely strength of will to be the best he can be and over the last year has shown a great attitude and willingness to learn. He interacts with intent and curiosity and is steadfast in his resolve to progress and be successful. He’s already thinking about further educational development and is keen to explore the management side of the business. He has a natural acumen for business and is efficient, logical and methodical in his approach to tasks.

He always wants to go over and above for our customers and will work harder to get things done when up against a deadline. He takes his preparation for work incredibly seriously and is up hours before he needs to be, ready and well-equipped for the day ahead. He is always early for work. His role is definitely physically demanding, he is on his feet all day every day, no exceptions are made for him and he’s happy with that – he would never complain. In fact, he’s an upbeat, much valued and loved member of our team; always joking, always genuinely interested in his colleagues.

He takes great pride in being part of a team – we can tell it means a lot to him. So much so that earlier this year Archie was part of our team entry in Eden Valley Hospice’s Bikes Boats Boots challenge and walked Hellvelyn in three hours and fifteen minutes which is extraordinary. He trained for months in preparation, nordic walking on many of Cumbria’s fells, determined to help his team complete the challenge. When he commits to something, he really commits.

Archie has surpassed the hopes and expectations we had for him when he started his apprenticeship and quite frankly he’s left us for dust. He’s reliable and clever and he gets things done and it’s been a privilege – and an honour – to watch him go from strength to strength. Our company is better for having him in it.

“A character”, “resilient”, “motivated”, “immaculate”, “meticulous”, “dedicated”, “courageous”, “honest”, “loyal” and “happy”, are all words our team members used today when we asked them to describe Archie. We are so proud of him, lucky to have him and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for him. Whatever it is, Archie will make the very, very best of it.”

Business Skills Apprentice of the Year


Richard French, Cartonage


Richard, undertaking a Team Leader/Supervisor Apprenticeship Standard is now just waiting for his end point assessment where we are looking forward to a distinction. Jill, Richard’s training coordinator nominated Richard,

“Richard deserves this award because not only has he been a fantastic student, submitting work on time and always completing it to a high standard, but he also came up with best work-based project. When the company realised they were going to need to purchase a pre-setting table, Richard was tasked with pricing this up. After seeing how much this would cost he set about making his own pre-setting table from scratch. Using the pre-setting table means they can set the pin frames before the job is on the machine, saving time in the setting up procedure on the machine. This was a huge success, and the company are now using this in their cut and crease department. Richard managed this project from start to finish and trained up other staff on how to use his product. Following this, Richard has recently been promoted to Cut and Crease Manager. I spoke to Richards Manager, and he told me the company are over the moon with Richard’s initiative and dedication.”


A huge congratulations go to these exceptional apprentices. You really are a credit to yourself, your employer, and the industry and all of us at BPIF Training are so proud.

We must however recognise our other shortlisted candidates:

James Lang, Ronset

James is completing his Print Technician Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard, his employer Chris nominated him saying that “James’ ability to pick up instruction quickly has increased production in out Digital print, he has also the ability to swap to our Large Format Department where he has again learned how to run the Flatbed printer, the latex and laminating machinery. When we have staff off work he jumps in, carries on producing print to high quality. He is quick to ask questions and seek help if required. In the short run digital print department, he can now take the artwork set the machine to print and then finish the item. His guillotine skills are also worth a mention as he can set programmes to cut for the wide variation of jobs that pass through that department. James, sets and runs the folder, laminator, and the booklet maker. He is a very pleasant lad who has grown into a young man, I feel these skills he has learnt have given him a personal confidence which were lacking when he first walked through the door.

Toby Edwards, Kitco

Toby is completing his Print Operative Level 2 Apprenticeship Standard with his employer David Hallett commenting that “Toby has been nothing short of remarkable for our business in his first year as our apprentice. He has come in fresh to this industry as a very young man with a bright and keen approach. Nothing is ever too much trouble for him and responds to every request with enthusiasm. Be it the more menial everyday tasks of an office to creating / designing new designs for our customers. For us as a business to have the confidence in passing these roles onto Toby has driven up our sales directly from his work and also the benefit of freeing up our time to concentrate more on increasing sales and improving our business. We have put much demand on Toby in terms of learning the Print role and him delivering this daily in a very business atmosphere but even with all this pressure he has managed great personal success in passing his Maths 7 English exams at the first attempt. His coursework has received very impressive results, and his ‘Out of Office’ hours is way ahead of schedule. This is testament to the amount of new work / practises that he takes on daily to improve himself and our business. Not sure how we could do it without you anymore Toby and we don’t want to find out!


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