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Richard Swaps Uniform for Success in Print

Richard Swaps Uniform for Success in Print

Richard with his award from Neil Mackenzie


APN Print Wanganui’s Richard Hughes has capped a stellar year – and a momentous change in career direction – by becoming New Zealand’s Print Apprentice of the Year.

Richard was announced as the winner before 900 people at the Pride In Print Awards at the Sky City Convention Centre in Auckland, the country’s most prestigious print gathering. Representing the reelfed sector of the industry, he beat five other top apprentices from diverse sectors including binding and finishing, digital, paperboard and packaging, screen and sheetfed.

Announcing the awards, PrintNZ chief executive Joan Grace said that the finalists had shown a commitment not only towards their companies and their workmates, but to the learning process as well.

“PrintNZ is committed to a process of achievement for the future, and these apprentices represent the future of the industry,” she said.

Accepting the award, Richard paid tribute to the other finalists for their efforts and gave particular thanks to and his Wanganui site manager Adam Kerse for their support, adding of Adam – “he even lent me his bike when mine was knicked!”

Later, Richard said that he was “just blown away” with the award. “In the couple of days I have spent with the other finalists I realised how much knowledge and talent there is in the printing industry. These people were top of their respective fields of printing, so to be chosen as the overall Print Apprentice of the Year is a huge honour.”

The award caps a wonderful year for Richard in which he was initially chosen as PrintNZ Training reelfed apprentice of the year for New Zealand. He came up against other apprentices from companies such as Wedderburn Scales, Aperio Group, Gravure Packaging, Business Media Press and Huhtamaki Packaging Worldwide before the field was narrowed down to him and three other finalists from Wellington and Christchurch.

However the award also completes a total lifestyle change for Richard, who four years ago came to New Zealand from North Wales, deciding on a new life with his partner and family after he came out of the Royal Navy, and swapped a uniform for “civvy street”.

With nothing obviously beckoning as a career path in the UK, he decided to take a chance on retraining with a printing apprenticeship for APN Print in Wanganui.

He began his apprenticeship in January 2004 and over the next three and a half years completed a structured training including block release courses, practical and competency tests and on-the-job assessments

Now, four years later, that gamble has paid off handsomely – “Coming here is the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says.

APN Print general manager operations Dan Blackbourn congratulated Richard and said his achievement signals what commitment and hard work will do for an individual.

“This achievement will not only benefit Richard in his career but the company is also better off with the knowledge that Richard now has. All apprentices should be aspiring to win this award.

“APN Print through its apprenticeship programme hopes to repeat this again in the not-too-distant future with the number of apprentices it has in its ranks.”


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