Saffron battles through personal tragedy to win top national award

Posted on by karen.smith

Saffron Tinnuche with her winning trophy.

Saffron Tinnuche with her winning trophy.

A children’s entertainer, who has overcome tragedy in her life to set up the prospect of a dream job as a Butlins Redcoat, won a major award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015.

Saffron Tinnuche, 18, from Pontarddulais, received the Traineeship (Engagement) Learner of the Year award at a high profile ceremony held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Thursday, October 29.

“I’m really happy, over the moon,” was Saffron’s immediate reaction to winning the award. “I never thought it would be me. I need to thank Steve Kelshaw and everyone at Coleg Sir Gâr for supporting me.”

The coveted awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have exceeded expectations, shown a dynamic approach to training and demonstrated initiative, enterprise, innovation, creativity and commitment to the improvement of skills development for the Welsh economy.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and media partner is Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Aged only 10, Saffron was taken into the care of her aunt and uncle as her parents struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. As a result her schooling suffered as she was left with crippling confidence issues.

She was finally getting her life together, rebuilding a relationship with her mum and thriving on a Performing Arts course at Coleg Sir Gâr in Llanelli, when her mum died. She then discovered that her father had died weeks earlier.

Despite being named Student of the Year, Saffron was unable to progress to a higher qualification as she lacked the entry requirements and instead set her sights on becoming a Butlins Redcoat.

She took up a Traineeship placement through the college with a children’s play centre where she flourished in both organising and performing at parties and this experience led to an audition and a dream job with Butlins.

Now with her uncle seriously ill, Saffron has temporarily returned to her Traineeship, with Butlins keeping a place open for her as a Redcoat.

“My life is happy now and I know almost anything is possible,” she said. “Winning the award makes me think of my parents.”

Mr Kelshaw, director of learning support at Coleg Sir Gâr, said: “I have never met anybody who is a better role model for showing other young people who face personal barriers what can be achieved.”

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James said: “Congratulations to all winners and finalists. We have some truly exceptional apprentices and learners here in Wales and these awards provide a perfect platform for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements.

“Equally important are the training providers and employers who go the extra mile to support their apprentices. We are proud to be delivering one of the most successful apprenticeship programmes in Europe with success rates in Wales remaining well above 80 per cent. Developing skilled young people is vital for our economy.”

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