An engineer and former military signaller has been named Apprentice of the Year at the RailStaff Awards.
Cameron O’Connell, 27, of Druids Heath, was forced to quit the British Army in 2015 following a serious injury to his back.
Although he initially struggled with the transition, the transferable skills and experiences he picked up as a communication systems operator saw him land an apprenticeship with infrastructure service provider Amey in Birmingham as an electrification and plant (E&P) engineer.
Despite knowing very little about the industry when he joined, Cameron’s hunger to learn and develop have set him apart from his peers. Starting with no qualifications, he has completed a BTEC, a Higher National Certificate and is now undertaking a foundation degree, all in electrical and electronics engineering, while taking part in major projects such as the East Midlands signalling power reliability and improvement works.
Cameron’s former mentor Abdul Rehman Savant, a senior E&P engineer at Amey, said the ex-apprentice is “on the path to success”.
Cameron, who now works for consultancy TSP Projects as an assistant electrical engineer, said: “I am so grateful for Amey for helping me through everything. They gave me the opportunity and I seized it with both hands.
“I just want to keep going all the way to the top. I want to be the CEO of a major company one day.”
The Apprentice of the Year Award was sponsored by Adey Steel, a leading fabrication specialist of rail infrastructure steelwork based in Loughborough.
Andrew Adey, Adey Steel Group managing director, said: "There were a number of worthy finalists but what’s exceptional about Cameron's story is how well he has adapted to a professional career after a challenging period of military service.
“I’m very impressed with the immediate impact he has made and his career trajectory looks to be an exciting one. There's no stopping him at the minute.”
The RailStaff Awards, now in its 12th year, was held on November 29 at Birmingham’s NEC to celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams who work in the rail sector.
Tom O’Connor, managing director of event organiser Rail Media, said: “The RailStaff Awards is not only our biggest night of the year, it’s also our favourite, a spectacle with no shortage of inspiring characters. We must thank our sponsors for making the night possible and the hundreds of guests who attended for such a memorable evening.”
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