Tom Woolston is ACR Trainee of the Year

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Published: 07 December 2018


refrigeration training trainee apprentice skills award
Tom Woolston, centre, Oliver Drury, front left, and Tom Fearon, front right, and finalists at the ACR Trainee of the Year Awards
Industrial refrigeration apprentice Tom Woolston of Star Refrigeration was named ACR Trainee of the Year 2018 at the annual awards ceremony at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield.

Oliver Drury of JD Cooling was runner-up and Tom Fearon of Source BioScience highly commended.

The judges paid tribute to the high standard of entries this year and seven other finalists were also recognised. They were: Evan Minns of JD Cooling, Alex Wilson (Dunbia), Ben Wilson (Knight Engineers), Grant Leniewski (Coolbreeze), Ben Hornby (Acme Facilities Group), Daniel Warren (James Mercer Group) and Stephen Day (Culm Cooling).
refrigeration award apprentice trainee industrial training college
Tom Woolston of Star Refrigeration receives his award from Juliet Loiselle of the ACR Journal
refrigeration training trainee apprentice skills award
Runner-up Oliver Drury of JD Cooling with Juliet Loiselle
refrigeration training trainee apprentice skills award
Tom Fearon of Source BioScience was highly commended
Tom Woolston's success follows the achievement of another Star Refrigeration trainee, Sam Gills, who was last year's winner.

Bristol-based Tom joined the company in September 2017 and service manager Gary Jones said: "Every time I have observed Tom working on site I have been able to question him on the function and operation of system components and their integration into the large systems that Star Refrigeration typically work with. We are now exposing Tom to more complex tasks and sites. He is likely to progress to become an engineer by the end of the year and I fully expect him to rapidly rise through the Star grading system.''

Tom's lecturer and assessor at Eastleigh College, Shaun Creech, said: "He has shown that as a young apprentice, if you want to, you can get a lot out of training in a subject you enjoy. As an apprentice with knowledge and experience with larger systems he decided that he would work with another student with less experience in the practical sessions and show him how to strip down a C02 semi hermetic compressor.'' 

Tom said: “I was privileged to be nominated for this award by my trainers and employers, and to go on to win the Trainee of the Year is an incredible honour. Attending awards ceremonies is such a fun experience and just one of the many perks of working for an organisation such as Star Refrigeration. Thank you to the whole team for supporting me on my learning journey.” He received £1,000 and and range of prizes provided by Sauermann UK, ITE UK, Dean & Wood and the Institute of Refrigeration (IOR).

Oliver Drury began a modern apprenticeship with JD Cooling Systems three years ago. Service director Richard Corby said: "Oliver has adapted fantastically well to new skills and his understanding of complex systems has been rewarded with more responsibility, being part of the service team and on the call out rota. His enthusiasm and commitment to training has rubbed off on the other apprentices, as he is now having apprentices working with him. He continually takes on new responsibility and is never worried about trying different tasks he always takes the opportunity to learn information from others within his peer group.''

Jason Clark, senior trainer consultant from Grimsby Institute, said: "Oliver demonstrates a high level of understanding of both practical and theoretical principles for the duration in the industry. I am sure that Oliver will continue to prove an asset to his company and to the industry, I have no doubt that he will become an accomplished engineer.'' 

Oliver received £500 and prizes from Sauermann UK, ITE UK, Dean & Wood and the IOR.

Tom Fearon is part of the field service department at Source BioScience. Field service manager Michael Whatmough said: "Tom has demonstrated the aptitude and potential to become a key member of the team. He has demonstrated over a short space of time his ability to excel in the various aspects of the role and is eager to progress. I believe by investing in the time to train Tom that he will undoubtedly continue to be an asset to Source BioScience and will have a bright future with our company.'' 

Ian Cross, programme development co-ordinator at Practical Refrigeration Training Centre, said: "Tom has a very strong grasp of his industry and the need to lower the carbon footprint through service, maintenance, installation and design. His fault-finding skills are excellent. During electrical training he was required to install, test and commission components and controls, as well as fault find. He excelled in this training.''

Tom received £300 and prizes from Sauermann UK, ITE UK, Dean & Wood and the IOR. The remaining seven finalists each received £200, donated by Dean & Wood, plus prizes from ITE UK and the IOR.

The ACR Journal would like to thank sponsors and supporters Dean & Wood, Sauermann UK, Fujitsu Air Conditioning, LU-VE, ITE UK, Advanced Engineering, Danfoss, Cubo2 Smart and the IOR.

Their generous support has now helped take the total amount ploughed back into industry training over the last nine years to more than £40,000.


Thanks also go to the judging panel: Calum Shaw (CSC), Howard Noble (Beijer Ref UK), Steve Taliadoros (LU-VE), Graeme Fox (REFCOM) and Juliet Loiselle (ACR Journal).