AN NHS apprentice from Worcester has been nominated for a prestigious award after being diagnosed with a life-changing illness.
Mark Abel, an apprentice at Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust has been shortlisted for Apprentice of the Year in the Health Education West Midlands Apprenticeship Recognition Awards 2016 after exceeding expectations and outstanding contributions to the workplace.
Nominated by colleagues at the Elgar Unit in Worcester where he is an admin assistant, the 49-year-old was forced to give up his career as a healthcare assistant in 2011 after a diagnosis of Multiple sclerosis triggered a Bilateral Optic Neuritis attack leading to sight loss.
With help from his family and Blind Veterans UK, Mark returned to work after spending a year to recover and come to terms with the effects of the illness.
In order to further his personal skills and development, he enrolled on the apprenticeship programme in 2014 and in September last year, Mark achieved an NVQ Level 2 in Business and Administration.
The Awards honour both apprentices and employers from across the West Midlands who demonstrate ongoing commitment, contribution and success as an individual or employer.
Mark said: “Becoming an apprentice meant I could learn new skills, expand on existing skills, gain experience, and have more confidence allowing me to apply them in my current role and achieve a qualification which will greatly enhance my future career opportunities.
“I was completely surprised when I found out I had been shortlisted as a finalist for the Apprentice of the Year award. I feel immensely proud of my achievement despite my disability and the hurdles I have overcome to get through the apprenticeship, which was only made possible by the help and support of my line manager Brian Walker, Blind Veterans UK and my patient and helpful tutor Manny Jaspal from Qube Learning.”
Mark has now enrolled onto the NVQ Level 3 Business and Administration apprenticeship which he will finish by the end of the year, and as for the future he hopes to remain an employee of the Trust and learn many new skills.
Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, the main provider of community and mental health services in Worcestershire, has also been shortlisted in the Employer of the Year category for the support it provides apprentices throughout their placements.
The awards ceremony takes place in February.
Visit www.hacw.nhs.uk/work-for-us/apprenticeship-scheme/ for more information on the scheme.