Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logosColeg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logos

From Super Yachts to Wind Turbine Apprentice of the Year

The hard work and dedication of a North Wales wind turbine apprentice was recently rewarded, when the former superyacht chief steward turned part-time firefighter scooped this year’s prestigious ‘Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Most Improved Apprentice’ award (Merseyside & North Wales).

Natalie Eddleston from Llandudno Junction is a second year RWE apprentice based at Coleg Llandrillo’s Wind Turbine Training Centre - the country’s first wind turbine dedicated training centre situated on the college’s Rhos-on-Sea campus. It was officially opened by the then First Minister of Wales, the Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, in December 2012.

Natalie, who blew away the competition to claim this highly sought-after accolade, was presented with her award by IMechE representative Gareth Cemlyn Jones at a ceremony at the specialist renewable energy centre in front of her peers and tutors. IMechE is one of three professional engineering bodies in the UK.

Natalie began her three-year apprenticeship at Coleg Llandrillo in September 2020. Since then, she has undertaken a challenging combination of academic and practical qualifications designed to prepare her for the role of a wind turbine technician, along with completing her training to become a fully-qualified firefighter in her own time!

Keen motorcyclist Natalie said: “I am delighted to receive this award from such an esteemed industry body as IMechE. I have really enjoyed my training at Coleg Llandrillo and am looking forward to going offshore in the next few weeks. I will be based at Mostyn docks, working between Rhyl flats and the Gwynt-y-Mor wind farm.”

Previous to the apprenticeship, Natalie worked all over the world on superyachts for several years on the hospitality side, reaching the position of chief steward. But, she was more interested in the deck side of proceedings, especially the engineering aspects.

She worked in Singapore, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Maldives, and the Middle East. When she finished, she began to realise that a career within the renewable energy industry was a job for life, so set a goal to become an apprentice.

Gareth Cemlyn said: “Grŵp Llandrillo Menai is doing ground-breaking work within the industry, providing skilled personnel to meet the needs of an ever-expanding sector. We wish Natalie all the best in what I am sure will be a very rewarding career.”

Phil Hughes, wind turbine apprenticeship coordinator at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, said: "Natalie came to Llandrillo to help her ambitions to move into renewable engineering. After many years working in the hospitality sector, this was a huge challenge. Her hard work in college paid off when she was able to win a place on the RWE apprenticeship ahead of hundreds of applicants.

“Now in the second year of her apprenticeship, she continues to push herself, building her engineering knowledge. I am delighted that Natalie has been recognised for all the hard work she has put into his apprenticeship by winning this prestigious award and I wish her all the very best in her new career.

“From a college perspective, over the last 10 years we have provided the industry with dozens of highly-skilled young people.”

Natalie’s boss, Craig O’Malley, RWE’s apprenticeships manager, said: “I am delighted for Natalie. I interviewed her originally and was thoroughly inspired, and I continue to be inspired to this day. It is a reflection on Natalie herself, and the quality of the teaching at Coleg Llandrillo. She is just one from a strong cohort who I believe are all going to be excellent wind turbine technicians.”

For more information on Wind Turbine apprenticeships at Coleg Llandrillo, please contact the college’s Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.