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2015 Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants

While the words ‘apprentice plumber’ may conjure up images of the mischievous young man who fixes your leaking tap and lives off meat pies from the corner shop, there is much more diversity in the plumbing trade than you might think.

To reward dedicated future plumbers of all kinds, Rheem Australia’s 2015 Apprentice Plumber Grants program has provided a $1000 helping hand to some 25 apprentice plumbers, including two young women and a number of mature age plumbers – one of whom is aged 64!

“We always receive a huge number of amazing entries, which makes choosing the final recipients very difficult indeed,” says Matt Sexton, CEO of Rheem Australia. “This year was no exception. Our grants program encourages not just young people starting out, but also those attempting to restart their careers. 

The high level of ambition and dedication shown by the entrants impressed judges Jon Palfrey, Training Manager with Rheem; Bryan Ornsby, Manager Plumbing and Water Industries Department Chisholm Institute; and Peter Jensen, Managing Director of Worboys Plumbing in Melbourne.

The judges were particularly on the lookout for any apprentices who showed generosity within the community, or strong determination to succeed.

“We had a number of applicants with fantastic community spirit, plus some mature age apprentices who kept their heads up despite being made redundant a number of times, a number who have young families to provide for, and plenty of youngsters who have made big sacrifices to better themselves for the long term,” says Jon Palfrey.

Adds Peter Jensen: “It is a good thing that Rheem provides encouragement and support to these men and women in the plumbing industry.”

Here are just some of the outstanding winning applications Rheem received:

  • Former shearer, 64-year-old Julyan Sumner from Western Australia, who will qualify at age 68. When his boss suggested he become an apprentice, Julyan made the decision with the encouragement of his wife as well as due to financial pressures, but says he’s humble, excited and proud to be an apprentice at his age and thoroughly enjoys his job. He’s a huge inspiration to apprentices of any age!
  • 20-year-old Todd Eshmade from South Australia, who was named Apprentice of the Year in 2014 at Jordan Plumbing. He was always interested in doing a trade and says plumbing, for him, was the most diverse and interesting. “I am constantly learning new skills and being challenged,” he says.
  • 25-year-old Damian Hynes from South Australia shows a great deal of passion for his trade and uses his skills to help those less fortunate; “I help in my local community volunteering to fix leaking taps and showers at the football club. I wish to travel to Africa to help on projects with wells to provide much needed water to thousands of people.”
  • 18-year-old Megan Barnes from Victoria, whose passion for plumbing started young. She grew up as a farmer’s daughter, learning to connect pipes and work the property’s pumps and windmills. “It’s hard to be accepted by other tradespeople as a female in a male-dominated trade. The physical side of the job can be challenging sometimes too, but I am overcoming this issue with determination and thought.”

Since the Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grant program was launched in 2012, 150 apprentice plumbers have now benefitted. The full list of this year’s winners can be found on the Rheem website – www.rheem.com.au/apprentice