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Carrier chef Elizabeth in line for national apprenticeship award

6 November 2023
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Teenage chef Elizabeth Coult is lined up for a national award thanks to her dedication and skill on board the nation’s flagship.

The 19-year-old Royal Navy chef from Sheffield has been named Intermediate Apprentice of the Year for the Southeast region – ahead of the national awards later this month when she’s up against other regional winners.

She and her galley shipmates aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth – Elizabeth’s first ship after completing training – are responsible for providing around 1,000 men and women on the Portsmouth-based warship with three meals a day, cooked and served on time and to the highest of standards.

“It feels good to be seen and recognised for all my hard work whilst completing my apprenticeship. It’s definitely a shock to get this far in the awards as I never expected it. It has made me realise I should be proud of myself for all I’ve achieved so far.” 

Beyond feeding the ship’s company, the chefs on board work together to put on functions producing fine dining to a high level during defence engagement events, be that in Portsmouth, deployed or whilst in a foreign port. 

 “Over the past year I have constantly volunteered for as many opportunities as possible,” Elizabeth said.

“So far I have been able to help run the catering for a formal function on board and I’ve run the bakery on a few occasions, which saw me mentoring other sailors. I managed to complete my work place task book in only five months – well ahead of the allotted 12 months.” 

Elizabeth decided to try a career catering in the Royal Navy in 2021, joining HMS Raleigh aged just 17.

“My original college course was cancelled in the pandemic. Initially I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to be a chef as I have always had a passion for cooking since a young age.

“I saw an advert on TV for the Royal Navy, after doing some research and seeing their apprentice programme, I knew if I joined I would be able to travel the world whilst doing what I love.”

It feels good to be seen and recognised for all my hard work whilst completing my apprenticeship. It’s definitely a shock to get this far in the awards as I never expected it. It has made me realise I should be proud of myself for all I’ve achieved so far.

Chef Elizabeth Coult

The Royal Navy is ranked third for apprenticeship employers in the country, with nearly 7,000 personnel across the Service currently undertaking their apprenticeship, three quarters of them in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.

Over 98 per cent of Royal Navy ratings are now enrolled on an apprenticeship programme for their specialist training in their chosen careers with over 20 options available. 

This gives sailors the opportunity to develop job-specific skills while gaining a range of vocational civilian qualifications.

As they learn a trade, working and earning a salary, they have the opportunity to study and complete this qualification, which will open opportunities for a range of other civilian and military qualifications.

“Our ratings form the Royal Navy’s main workforce, doing work that is the foundation of our operations,” said Lieutenant Commander Oliver Hounslow, Training Management Officer aboard the carrier.

“As they learn their trade, they progress through the ranks on merit. They benefit from all of the opportunities available to Royal personnel – sport, education, adventurous training – as well as experiences not available in any other job.

“The apprenticeship scheme has been a great success in ensuring our people get recognition for their hard work and the skills they learn in the pursuit of their career.” 

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