FFION LEWIS has been promoted to lead distiller at award-winning In the Welsh Wind Distillery, based at Tanygroes, near Cardigan, after completing a Foundation Apprenticeship in Brewing.

Now the 22-year-old’s learning journey has been rewarded with the Foundation Apprentice of the Year award at the annual Apprenticeship, Employment and Skills Awards held by Cambrian Training Company, one of Wales’ leading work-based learning providers.

There was a double celebration for In the Welsh Wind which also won the Small Employer of the Year award.

Ffion joined In the Welsh Wind as an apprentice distiller after returning home to Mid Wales from New Zealand where she lived for three years and has played a key role in the development of whiskey making at the distillery

With a background in laboratory work, the job was perfect for her. Having now progressed to a leadership qualification with Chwarae Teg Women’s Career Development Programme, Ffion says the Foundation Apprenticeship improved her confidence, self-esteem and employability.

Ffion, who is now supporting other apprentices within the business, said: “It means a lot to win this award. I think apprenticeships are really important. I had previously worked in a microbiology lab in New Zealand and didn’t have any experience in distilling before doing my apprenticeship.

“I was really happy to find a job in a job at In the Welsh Wind when I returned to West Wales.”

Recognising employers and learners who have excelled in apprenticeship, skills and employment training programmes delivered by Cambrian Training Company, the awards were held at The Metropole Hotel & Spa, Llandrindod Wells.

The other Foundation Apprentice of the Year finalist was Ryan Harding, 26, Kepak, Merthyr Tydfil who lives in Blaenavon.

With offices in Welshpool, Holyhead, Colwyn Bay, Llanelli and Llanelwedd, Cambrian Training Company delivers work-based apprenticeships across Wales.

Arwyn Watkins, OBE, the company’s managing director, congratulated Hannah and all the award winners and finalists for their achievement despite the challenging disruptions caused by the pandemic over the past two years.

“These awards showcase the dedication and commitment by individuals and companies to the apprenticeship programme here in Wales,” he added. “Ffion has demonstrated what can be achieved in career progression through apprenticeships.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.