Double triumph for Lancashire aerospace apprentice

Lucas Benson, centre, with Neil McKay, Chairman, North West Aerospace Alliance (left) and Chris Hebert, Engineering Director - Aerodynamics
Lucas Benson, centre, with Neil McKay, Chairman, North West Aerospace Alliance (left) and Chris Hebert, Engineering Director - Aerodynamics
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A BAE Systems apprentice who has worked on projects involving Hawk and the F-35 Lighting II at Warton was one of a host of young talent hailed in a regional awards scheme.

Lucas Benson was the overall winner of the award of North West’s Best Aerospace and Defence Apprentice, in the NWAA New Talent Awards.

In a ceremony, held at the prestigious Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, saw young people working or studying in the North West Aerospace industry rewarded for their innovative work.

And in a second triumph for the Lancaster lad, he won the UK Apprentice of the Year at the prestigious BAE Systems UK Apprenticeship Awards for 2019.

Lucas impressed the judges with his strong tool design and production skills, excelling academically and playing an integral role in the Company’s Apprentice Innovation Challenge. Lucas was also part of a team that raised £4,000 for Fisher House Foundation.

Lucas said: "My apprenticeship has given me priceless workplace experience - learning from the best engineers in their field - while earning a competitive wage. I’ve grown both personally and professionally and look forward to continuing my education and helping to shape the engineering sector for future generations.”

David Bailey, chief executive officer at NWAA, said: “The New Talent Awards has become a key event for the North West’s Aerospace and Defence Sector.

“It is important that we continue to recognise and reward the achievements of the talent emerging in our industry.

“It is hugely important to our industry that we increase the numbers of talented young people into apprenticeships to plug the skills gap that threatens our ability to achieve the growth the aerospace market is experiencing.”

Lucas Benson picked up the top award and the £1,000 prize sponsored by recruitment consultants Ideal Recruit Ltd, following “fierce competition and entries from organisations across the North West and Isle of Man.”

In November Lucas picked up a highly commended in the Advanced Apprentice of the Year awards.

BAE Systems invests around £90m a year in education, skills and early careers activities and has 2,000 apprentices in training across its UK businesses at any given time with 95 percent on average securing permanent roles.

The Winners for Aerospace Engineering Technician and Aerospace Engineer sponsored by the Institute of Engineering and Technology which included a cheque for £300 each, were Will Fallows, of Burnley based Paradigm Precision and Matthew Eccles, of Bolton’s MBDA Missile Systems respectively. Nabeela Desai from Paradigm Precision carried off the “One to Watch” trophy, sponsored by Preston’s College.

The NWAA was formed in 1994 and has 220 members.