Somerset resident, 25-year-old Sophie Jenkins won Young Apprentice of the Year at the Geberit Awards.
Passionate about sustainable energy, Miss Jenkins was awarded £1000 pounds for her hard work as an apprentice Heat Engineer at Dunster Biomass Heating.
“We were really impressed by Sophie’s hard work, determination and eagerness to learn new things,” said Victoria Willis, Head of Piping for Geberit.
“It felt amazing to receive such a prestigious award! Engineering and construction is always seen as a ‘man’s world’ so it was great to break the mould and be recognised for my hard work,” said Miss Jenkins.
Her role involves observing central heating systems and installing biomass boilers.
Miss Jenkins interest in eco-friendly energy started in school when she was selected to go to Africa for a project raising awareness about renewable and sustainable energy.
“I remember when I created my first solar panel oven there, it was an incredible feeling. Since then I have supported green energy,” she said.
Miss Jenkins has been involved in 15 projects including installing biomass heaters for the National Trust as well as the Beaulieu Motor Museum. She attributes her success to thorough training by seniors at Dunster Biomass Energy.
“I was always closely monitored by the lead engineers, who gave me the time of day. They gave me more supportive than I have ever could have imagined, but at the same time, they didn’t wrap me in cotton wool,” said Miss Jenkins. According to research by the Smith Institute, women represent around 11% of the workforce in the construction sector, and as little as 1% of the manual trades.
“People always ask me … is it horrible working with boys all the day? Frankly, it’s not. They are all my mates and we look out for one another. I’ve turned into an honorary guy on site!” Miss Jenkins explained.
Miss Jenkins hopes to raise further awareness about renewable energy through her work and is excited about her prospects at Dunster Biomass Energy.
“I love waking up and going to work every day. My advice to other girls who want to work in this industry is to be assertive, determined and hard working,” she concluded.