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Duke of York engineering award for Bristol recruit

31 October 2016
A 19-year-old recruit from Bristol has been given special time off from his Royal Navy training to collect a prestigious engineering award from His Royal Highness The Duke of York.

Recruit Joe Williams was just three weeks into his 10-week initial naval training course at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall when he was invited to St James’s Palace to collect his Gold level Duke Of York Award for Technical Education. 

Normally new recruits are not allowed to leave the establishment until they complete the course, but after his instructors were made aware, special arrangements were made to enable Joe to attend.

A former student at Bristol Technology Engineering Academy, Joe initially enrolled on a two-year course that was equivalent to two A Levels.  

I just thought it was something that came in the post with my A level results and then I got an email saying congratulations and inviting me to St James’ Palace to meet the Duke of York.

Recruit Joe Williams

However with just two months to go, he decided to take another direction and managed to complete a year’s work in the remaining time to achieve a qualification equivalent to three A Levels. 

In addition he was put forward for the Duke of York award, which is sponsored by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust.

Joe said:  “There was a range of criteria to be met and to formalise the award we had to have an interview when I was told that I had got the gold.

“I just thought it was something that came in the post with my A level results and then I got an email saying congratulations and inviting me to St James’ Palace to meet the Duke of York. 

“I was surprised that the Navy let me have the time-off to go and get my award because I’m still in phase one training, so I was grateful. 

“The Duke and I had a little bit of a conversation about engineering and my Navy training.  He was quite surprised that the Navy had given me the time off too.”

Prior to attending College Joe was a pupil at Backwell School. 

He has joined the Royal Navy as an advanced apprentice specialising in marine engineering. 

Individuals on the scheme start their careers as probationary Leading Hands, two ranks higher that other Engineering Technicians entering the Service. 

A former Air Cadet Joe always wanted a career in engineering.  He said:  “I was thinking initially of going to the Marines, but then I realised that Marines don’t really get involved much with in-depth engineering and I really do like engineering.

“I like building things.  I like making things.  Maths and science is what I excel at.  I’m rubbish at English, but I’m good with numbers.

“I’ve certainly enjoyed training so far.  I want to be posted to HMS Queen Elizabeth.  It’s the Royal Navy’s biggest most advance aircraft carrier.  Plus it’ll be new to everyone not just me and I think it will tie in well with my apprenticeship.”

Looking forward into his career Joe is hoping to earn a commission;  “I want to be an Officer ultimately, but I think first I need to learn how to be a leader.  I’d like to get to Petty Officer and then I think I’ll be ready to transfer.”

Bristol Technical College is a University Technical College (UTC) for 14-19-year-olds. 

UTCs offer a brand new way to learn.  They deliver an innovative, high-quality education that combines technical, practical and academic learning. 

In doing so, they offer students more than the traditional GCSE and A-Level curriculum. 

Students complete real life projects and work alongside local employers to provide them with the many competences required for employment in the engineering workplace.

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