After swapping university life to become a plumber, Dionne Flemming from Chapletown, Leeds has been chosen as the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year at the Leeds Apprenticeship Awards.

Flemming’s employer East North East Homes nominated her for the award, which recognises apprentices that “go the extra mile” and excel in the workplace in everything they do.

Flemming, 30 (pictured with runner-ups), said: “I had started a university course but the cost of my studies combined with the fact that I wasn’t guaranteed a job at the end made me think again about what I wanted to do. I have always been very practical and decided to try college instead and originally did an NVQ Level 2 diploma in plastering, plumbing and joinery.”

After 14 months she started an apprenticeship with Leeds-based East North East Homes and enrolled on the two-year course at Leeds College of Building. She now studies one day a week at college and spends four days working for the council-run housing company.

Flemming added: “I have a seven-year-old son so leaving university was a big decision, but ultimately I felt that by combining my training with working and earning a wage would give me a great career and also enable me to support my son. To win the award really means a lot to me as it demonstrates how much my employer values my work. I absolutely love plumbing and am learning every day, so I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship as it’s a great way to learn and earn.”

The Leeds Apprenticeship Awards are delivered by Leeds City Council in partnership with Leeds City College, Leeds College of Building and National Apprenticeship Service.

Ian Billyard, principal at Leeds College of Building, said: “We are delighted that Dionne has been commended for her work in this way. She is an exemplary apprentice who truly loves learning new skills and finding solutions to problems. She is a great asset to East North East Homes and no doubt has a very long and prosperous career in plumbing ahead of her.”