Talented youngster Blair Hendry is still on cloud nine after winning the SJIB/Edmundson Apprentice of the Year at the SELECT Awards 2018. Here, we reveal everything you need to know about the 22-year-old, including his work at Fife Council, his hopes for the future – and why he gave his award to his grandma for safe keeping....
Congratulations on your award Blair. Has it sunk in yet?
I think it finally has. At the time, it was such a shock and I didn’t expect it at all. Obviously there were only three of us that could have won it, so the odds were pretty good, but everyone was just talking about how good it was to get there, and being in the final itself was such a great achievement. So when I won, I couldn’t believe it.
Did you have a good night?
Who was there with you? It was a brilliant night. It was my first black-tie event and I was quite surprised by the size of it. I’d been to other awards nights but nothing quite as grand as that, so it was great to swap the work clothes for the tux for a change! I had my mum Lorraine, dad Martin and girlfriend Innes with me, and they absolutely loved the whole occasion. And obviously it made their night when I actually won.
Where have you put your award?
It’s had two homes so far. First of all I gave it to my grandma to keep, to make up for me not taking her to the awards – she was gutted not to go. So I gave it to her but she has since given it back because she was scared that she would break it, which is probably quite a good thing because she is a wee bit clumsy. It’s now in the living room at home, with a good spot on the mantlepiece.
Has there been much banter at work?
Not that much – they were just so happy to see me win it, although I got a few funny texts when they saw I was on the cover of the last issue of CABLEtalk! There was more banter from my team-mates at Leven United. One of them saw my photo in the local paper and cut it out and stuck it up in the changing rooms, so I got more stick from them than I did my workmates.
Who else has been in touch to congratulate you?
All the people at Fife Council and even the other apprentices that I went to college with – I got some texts from them and they were all so pleased for me.
So how did you get started in the industry?
My dad built an extension on our family home when I was around 14 and he’d always gone on about how he wished he had a trade, so he really got me involved in it. After that, I weighed up the options of what I thought was the best trade. Then I went on to apply for the apprenticeship with the council at 17, and I think it was a good pick.
What do you think you learned as an apprentice?
Apart from the skills and the information and so on, the biggest thing I learned was maturity. Coming into the trade at 17, straight from high school without any serious job experience, it made me grow up quite quickly. I know it’s a cliché but it really made me adapt to being in the real world.
How did you find the FICA? Was it tough?
It was tough. I’m quite a nervous person when it comes to tests, so for me the biggest thing was always going to be controlling my nerves. I’d done everything in the test already through my apprenticeship and I studied a lot for it with help from everyone at Fife Council and the tutors at Fife College, who were absolutely brilliant. I’d asked them all my journeyman questions and it was just about controlling my nerves on the day and taking my time, thinking things through. I was over the moon when I got my letter to say that I'd passed.
What job or project have you been most proud of?
During the third year of my apprentice we restored an old car garage – it was quite a big job and I was left in charge of rewiring the office and storage area of the building. For me, it was brilliant because I was getting to put in all the skills I'd learned and I was in control of it. They just left me to get on with it and it was my first experience of being a proper tradesman. Obviously I asked them questions and for help, but it was a taste of what was to come.
What’s been the biggest surprise about your career so far?
I think the biggest shock has been how quickly the four years of my apprenticeship have gone. At the start, when I had my induction at the council, Everyone said: “These four years will fly in and then you will be a tradesman.” I thought four years would feel like a long time and it would go slowly, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
What have you enjoyed most?
I’ve enjoyed meeting so many different people and all the different experiences you get as an apprentice. The different places you work, the different journeymen you meet and learn from… also I’ve made a lot of new friends at college, and now it’s just a great feeling to be set up for life with a trade.
What are your hopes and aims for the future?
In the short term I want to keep learning and developing and then go for my approved status in a couple of years’ time. Longer term, I would love to go and travel and work. That’s something I really want to do and I think my skills can be transferable anywhere in the world.
Would you like to specialise in anything?
I’ve always had a really big interest in electrical design, from when I did a project at college. In our second year we got to do an electrical installation design project and designed an installation for a warehouse. I loved the idea of being in control of the design of an installation – the best way to do it, the layouts and so on – and from that I set up a week’s work experience shadowing a member of Fife Council’s electrical design team. That was a great experience and hopefully I can follow that up. I’d be happy to go back to college for that.