BLACK Cats legends helped kick off a ceremony to honour hard-working students apprentices.
Organised by the Springboard Sunderland charitable trust, which delivers a range of services and training schemes across the North East, the awards recognise the achievement of young people and adults who have excelled in their programmes.
Denise Wilson, trust secretary, said: “We had more than 25 different categories of awards this year which demonstrate the level of commitment of our learners in aspiring to reach their personal goals.
“It was great to see so any employers also attend as without them realistic hands on experience would not be possible.”
Jimmy and Bobby handed out the awards to learners who were nominated for their individual effort and achievement while taking part in Apprenticeship, Alternative Education and Excelr8 programmes.
The winners were put forward by employers, tutors, learners, placements and training staff.
They included Lorna Emmerson, 18, from Witherwack, who won Childcare Apprentice of the Year, Stacey Berry, 30, from South Shields, who won Sport Apprentice of the Year, Ryan Hunter, 17, from South Hylton, who won Business Admin Apprentice of the Year and Luke Matthews, 19, from Fulwell, Design and Print Apprentice of the Year.
Its Employers of the Year were UK Independent Medical Group, in Hartlepool, and Fairgrieve Mouldings, in Sunderland.
“This is the first year the awards have been sponsored by local businesses, including Branch Insurance, Total Business Group and Avantex,” said Denise.
“This extra support helped us to make the evening more special.
“We hope the Gems will become as well known as the Oscars.”
Springboard, which is based at the Rivergreen Industry Centre, Pallion, delivers programmes for people wanting to develop their skills and prepare for a career in many different areas, including child care, digital print, horticulture, military service, hospitality, retail and warehousing.
In the past year, the charity has helped more than 1,400 adults and young people build confidence while developing their personal and work skills.