Mechanical, Electrical and Trim apprentice Technician, James Barnard, from Apollo Motor Group Cheltenham, has described his apprenticeship as ‘life-changing’ and his recent shortlisting as a finalist in this year’s Bodyshop Live Awards as ‘priceless’.

James was shortlisted for the awards after completing a rigorous round of practical assessments at the Remit Group Automotive Academy in Derby, which were used to help the judging panel identify who has the best knowledge and practical skills to take home the title in their category.

The Bodyshop Live Awards is Britain’s only fully independent practical awards for crash repair workers. It is held specifically for vehicle refinishing technicians and body repair specialists at all levels from an apprentice up to more experienced operators. Apprentices are assessed in three categories, including Apprentice Mechanical, Electrical and Trim (MET) Technician, Apprentice Paint Technician and Apprentice Panel Technician.

James, aged 21, is working towards his level 3 MET apprenticeship. He said of the tasks: “It’s a lot like the stuff I do at work and the academy, so I tried to be quite relaxed and comfortable. I just wanted to give it a shot and see how well I could do.”

His journey from School leaver to award finalist has been supported by his employer, Apollo Motor Group and specialist training provider Remit Group.

“I am due to finish (my apprenticeship) in September, and I have had a really good time at Apollo. I had a lot of help from Apollo, if I needed support, I could get it, and I also had a lot of help from Remit Group and without it I don’t think I would have got as far as I have”, says James.

“When I left school, I had no grades, and thought I would get nowhere in life, but this has been the perfect opportunity to progress and get a career. The Apprenticeship has made me grow. I have managed to achieve something, it has definitely changed my life”, he adds.

The nomination, from his employer and development coach from Remit has allowed James to achieve a national level of recognition for all his hard work to date.

“To me it means a massive step; a life changing situation. Also, it shows that I have been appreciated, that I have done the work, put in the hard effort and actually got something out of it at the end.

It is something that is priceless to me. You can’t just walk in to any job from nothing”.

This year’s Bodyshop Live Awards take place on Friday (20th September) at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.