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Reflections of a Thames Water apprentice

Monday 9th September 2019 12:00

Matthew Gair

A young apprentice from Middlesbrough is proving a bright spark at Britain’s biggest water company.

Matthew Gair was just 20 when he left his hometown to move 260 miles to London to start a four-year apprenticeship in mechanical and electrical engineering with Thames Water, which provides drinking water and sewage services to 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.

Now aged 23, Matthew is due to complete the course along with several other apprentices in May 2020. There’s a guaranteed engineering job with Thames Water once they're qualified.

Matthew grew up in Linthorpe, later moving to Nunthorpe where he attended Nunthorpe Academy. Leaving his family and friends behind was tough, but Matthew says working for Thames Water has boosted his self-confidence and opened up opportunities he never had before.

“In 2014 I was living in Middlesbrough with my family having finished college and decided to get myself an apprenticeship in the engineering industry,” he said.

“Two years passed and due to high demand and a lack of apprenticeship spaces, I still had not managed to secure a place despite my best efforts. In 2016 I decided enough was enough and applied further afield than just my hometown, and within five months I had secured my mechanical electrical apprenticeship with Thames Water in London.”

His first year was spent at Kingston College where he won the Apprentices’ Apprentice of the Year Award in a ceremony attended by his proud mum and dad. He also came second in the Apprentice of the Year Awards.

Matthew said: “It was an incredibly proud moment. Moving from the north to the south initially presented many challenges but it started to become very clear that I had made a good choice moving to London.”

In the second year he spent one day in college and four on site, including the London Water Ring Main and Beddington Sewage Works in Croydon.

Now in his third and final year, Matthew said: “The Thames Water apprenticeship has been great for helping me on a professional and personal level. My self-confidence, my life experience and my interpersonal skills are all qualities that have been enhanced as a result.

“I hope to keep developing my skills throughout the final year of my apprenticeship and beyond. My apprenticeship has broadened my horizons and opened up opportunities that I have never had before.”

Matthew’s manager, Dennis Grant, said: “Matthew has worked very hard. He has received good performance development reviews, always achieving ‘above expectation’."