Locals honoured in awards
By MEL MARTIN
THE North Coast Training Awards turned out to be a huge night for the Coffs Coast with three locals walking away as winners.
Greg Simpson, from Emerald Beach Plumbing, said he had felt humbled when he found out he had taken out the North Coast Apprentice of the Year Award.
"It's just fantastic," he said.
"I was stoked just to have made it to the final 12, let alone to the final three, and let alone to actually win it."
Greg will now head to Sydney to the State Awards, and while his apprenticeship is over, he says he'll stay with Emerald Beach Plumbing for quite a while yet.
"Pete (Coulson, owner) has offered for me to go into business with him," Greg said.
"But I'd like to learn more about the business first."
Marie Hoskins said when her name was called as the winner of the North Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year award, she was a little embarrassed.
"But once I got up there, I felt really good," she said.
"It was a real honour to receive such a prestigious award.
"I had no idea how significant it was until I started receiving phone calls from everyone."
Marie has now completed her traineeship with the Coffs Harbour Aboriginal Land Council and she is hoping for a future working in community service.
"I want to try to help young indigenous people in the community to be mentorS for younger generations," she said.
"Being indigenous myself, I can under- stand the difficulties they are faced with every day, and working at the Land Council, I have seen how desperate the need is for a lot more support."
For Paul Hoffman, being the joint winner of the North Coast Employer of the Year award was also a huge achievement, but a team one.
"It's a big reward for a big team effort," the general manager of Express Coach Builders said.
"That's where the real award is because if we didn't have the team's input and involvement, we wouldn't be where we are today."
But while he says everyone is thrilled about the award, the team hasn't had a chance to celebrate as yet.
"The problem is we have that much work in front of us, it's been heads down bum up, but they were all chuffed."
Express Coach Builders currently employ 31 apprentices and trainees in a workforce that totals 82.
The company is now headed to Sydney for the State awards.