Young apprentice stars shine at Drax awards

Ten young apprentices were crowned winners as the energy industry stars of the future took centre stage at the annual Drax Group Apprentice Awards.

The ceremony, held near Selby in North Yorkshire, brought together apprentices from across the company’s UK operations to celebrate the outstanding contribution they have made to Drax.

The big winner of the night was Josh Smith, 28, from Oban, for his work at Drax’s iconic ‘Hollow Mountain’ Cruachan Power Station. Not only did he bag the Apprentice of the Year (Year 4 Craft) award, but he also walked away with the ‘Paul Chambers Outstanding Achievement Award 2023,’ the biggest prize on offer at the event.

The awarding judges commended Josh for his role in delivering several complex projects at Cruachan. During the year he even earned an additional Higher National Certificate (HNC) on top of his normal studies.

On receiving his awards, Josh said: “I’m grateful to everyone at Cruachan for the incredible opportunity and the invaluable lessons I’ve learned. The support and mentorship have been instrumental in my professional growth.

“The knowledge and skills acquired here have prepared me well for future challenges. I look forward to applying what I’ve learned and continuing to progress in my career.”

Other young apprentices from across Drax were also recognised at the event. Human Resources apprentice Erin Rodger, 17, from Thorpe Willoughby, a village close to Drax Power Station, was awarded Business Apprentice of the Year (Level 2-4). She was praised for her can do attitude, for the positive example she consistently sets for her colleagues, and for her confidence, commitment, and ability to any task she’s given.

Erin said: “I’m really proud of myself for winning this award. It feels amazing to have been recognised for my work and growth over the last year. I have learnt so much already at Drax and I’m looking forward to my second year.”

One of the hosts for the evening was Ian Kinnaird, Drax’s Scottish Assets Director, who praised the work of all those involved.

Speaking after the ceremony, he said: “It is fantastic to be able to give young people the first step in their careers through our apprenticeship programme here at Drax. Our apprentices have unique talents and bring new perspectives that we can all learn from.

“All of the award winners and nominees should all be extremely proud of themselves, and we look forward to seeing how their careers progress here at Drax.”

This year’s winners were:

  • The Paul Chambers Overall Outstanding Achievement – Josh Smith, age 28 from Oban and based at Cruachan Power Station.
  • Business Apprentice of the year, Cyber Security (Year 3, Level 5-7) – Shane Panizales, age 26 and based at Drax Power Station.
  • Business Apprentice of the year, Human Resources (Year 2, Level 2-4) – Erin Rodger, age 17, from Thorpe Willoughby near Selby, and based at Drax Power Station.
  • Craft Apprentice of the year (Scotland, Year 4) – Josh Smith, age 28 from Oban.
  • Craft Apprentice of the year (Scotland, Year 3) – Paul Firth, age 21 from Motherwell.
  • Craft Apprentice of the year (Scotland, Year 1) – Lewis Bennett, age 22 from East Kilbride.
  • Technical Apprentice of the year (Year 1) – Jack Woods, age 21 from Willoughby.
  • Technical Apprentice of the year (Year 2) – Sam Easthill, age 23 from Cliffe.
  • Technical Apprentice of the year (Year 3) – Declan Farmer, age 20 from Gilberdyke.
  • Technical Apprentice of the year (Year 4) – Simran Ley, age 24 from Swinefleet

The craft and technical apprenticeship initiative, spanning four years, offers new recruits an opportunity to work alongside highly qualified engineers, gaining skills in three key engineering disciplines: Mechanical, Electrical, and Control & Instrumentation. Drax also offers apprenticeship opportunities to areas in business support such as HR, cybersecurity, IT, facilities, and network security.

As Drax progresses plans to expand its new pumped storage hydro site at Cruachan in Scotland, as well as deploying bioenergy with carbon capture (BECCS) at the power station in Selby, the opportunities for apprentices within the renewable power industry have never been greater.


Aidan Kerr
Senior Media Manager
E: [email protected]
T: 07849090368

Editor’s Notes

Drax has been running an apprenticeship scheme for almost two decades at its eponymous power station in North Yorkshire and also offers internships and graduate schemes as part of its dedication to improving skills and increasing opportunities for young people across the region.

Drax runs a variety of initiatives to support STEM education and skills including offering power station tours, interactive workshops and work experience opportunities.

Applications will be opening soon for Drax’s next work experience for students in Y10-Y12 or S4-S6 in Scotland. For more details go to

About Drax

Drax Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and in 2019 announced a world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology.

Drax’s around 3,000 employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production and supply to third parties. For more information visit

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of renewable electricity generation assets in England and Scotland. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Having converted Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. It is also where Drax is piloting the groundbreaking negative emissions technology BECCS within its CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage) Incubation Area.

Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:

The Group has 17 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. The pellets are produced using materials sourced from sustainably managed working forests and are supplied to third party customers in Europe and Asia for the generation of renewable power.

Drax’s pellet plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.


Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website