Ella Middleton

An apprentice from City of Wolverhampton College has been recognised for their work in conserving some of the nation’s most historic aircraft.

Ella Middleton, aged 21, who works as an engineering apprentice at The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, was named Apprentice of the Year by the Rotary Club of Wolverhampton.

She was presented with the George Sidebotham Memorial Award at their fourth annual awards evening held at Perton Park Golf Club on Thursday 5th March.

Ella was nominated by RAF Museum Training & Development Manager Mick Shepherd for her hard work and dedication over the last twelve months.  Her main training has involved working in sheet metal but Ella has proved to be a diverse and capable individual who has worked on a variety of projects.  Ella was part of the team based at Ramsgate, Kent during the salvage operation of the Dornier Do 17 and played an integral part in the first phase of its conservation.  She has worked with colleagues across the museum assisting with museum events, educational workshops for schools and has even coordinated a work experience programme with students interested in engineering.

Ella said:During my apprenticeship with the museum I have been given some fantastic opportunities to develop my skills, working on projects including; the Handley Page Hampden, Dornier Do 17, Vickers Wellington and the First World War in the Air exhibition.  A highlight of my apprenticeship was an exchange to America in 2014 where I worked for three weeks at the Smithsonian Institute at the Udvar Hazy Conservation Centre in Virginia.”

The RAF Museum’s apprenticeship scheme began in 2005, due to a shortage of people with the hand skills required to look after its historic aircraft collection.  The museum began running apprenticeships for heritage aircraft engineers who soon proved to be a source of enthusiastic, reliable, trustworthy, capable and safe pairs of extra hands.  Nurtured by the museum’s aircraft technicians, master craftsman in their trade, the apprentices rapidly developed their hand-skills and their work is now enthusiastically incorporated into museum exhibits for future generations to admire.  The apprentices are a vital asset in the museum’s team and have enabled the museum to be less reliant on outside contractors and to keep more work in house under its direct control.

The museum works in partnership with City of Wolverhampton College for the academic and specialist vocational education of the apprentices as well as the assessment and verification of their skills for NVQ awards.

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