AN AMBITIOUS teenager hoping to secure a career in marine engineering has been recognised for a breakthrough year in the industry.

Aidan Hinchcliffe, 16, recently won the 2020 Lady Hamlyn award from the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology.

The nationwide search celebrates apprentices who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to their professional development and offers them a bursary to help with their career.

During lockdown, Aidan has continued to commute four days a week, waking up before 5am to embark on a journey to Lymington, where he is gaining expert training as part of a four-year apprenticeship with Berthon Boat Company.

Aidan said: "Berthon is based in Lymington and is synonymous with yacht building and repairs. I catch the 6.25am ferry from Yarmouth to get there.

"Last year I began the apprenticeship as a marine engineer and spend four days at Berthon and one at college. I hope it will lead to a successful career as a marine engineer and once qualified and confident in my role, I will be looking at further development within the company.

"It was a fantastic surprise to win the Lady Hamlyn award. It’s my first year of doing the apprenticeship and I really appreciate the opportunity Berthon has given me."

Since lockdown, all practical elements of the apprenticeship have been put on hold, with people included on the scheme instead working on hands-on projects from home.

This has allowed Aidan's to augment a bulging portfolio which includes creating a one-man hovercraft out of a petrol leaf blower and building a mini-caravan from scratch.

Recent months have seen him devoting time to the restoration of a 1979 Suzuki motorbike.

Keith Longman, the yard manager at Berthon Marina, said: "We are extremely pleased one of our first year apprentices has won the Lady Hamlyn Award with IMarEST after an application and interview process.

"Aidan has shown great enthusiasm, promise and commitment since starting his apprenticeship.

"Berthon has been at the forefront of developing new apprenticeship standards for the industry and apprentices such as Aidan are already beginning to reap the benefits of these changes. This is excellent and exciting news for Aidan – well done!”