An 18-year-old trainee joiner from Devon-based GS Haydon & Son has been named the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) Apprentice of the Year.
Chris Lake was presented with the award at a gala dinner held at Lord's Cricket Ground Pavilion by Stuart Littlefair of sponsor CITB-ConstructionSkills.
The teenager also received a £150 cash prize from management consultant Lignum Associates.
Graham Haydon, managing director of GS Haydon & Son, said: "Chris showed promise from the beginning, even in the professional manner of his CV. Since he has started with us, Chris has shown an impressive work ethic, the right attitudes and aptitudes. Learning the basics fast, he has quickly moved onto more complex tasks and he is assisting other team members with their work.
"We have high hopes for this young man, who will become a highly skilled joiner and a valued member of our team."
Lake commented: "I'm made up with this award! It was a huge surprise and it's great to get an award for doing something I really love doing. My uncle is a joiner and I always enjoyed doing some basic carpentry on the family farm, as well as at school, so I started looking for joinery apprenticeships as soon as I left school.
“I applied to loads of places and after two weeks' work experience at GS Haydon & Son, they offered me the opportunity I’d always wanted. It has been fantastic. I have received a lot of very good training, and now I get to do much more than I ever thought I’d be allowed to do in my apprenticeship – bench work, working with machinery like spindle moulders, panel saws and mortices, and not too much sweeping up! I enjoy it all."
The BWF Woodworking Industry Training Forum (WITForum) and CITB-ConstructionSkills also recognised two runners-up: Ross Spark of AA Taylor in Brighton and Max DeCourcy of Parker & Highland Joinery in Lancing, West Sussex.
Dave Campbell, manager of the WITForum, which supports joinery businesses looking to take on apprentices, said: "For any young person looking for an exciting and practical way of learning new skills, earning good money and staying clear of student debt, look no further than woodworking and joinery manufacturing.
"BWF member firms are generally ahead of the game when it comes to investing in apprentices, and they open the door to people like Chris to enjoy a successful and rewarding career in joinery and to help us secure the future of this industry."