You’re Hired! The Apprentice Story Goes From Strength To Strength

11 February 2022

Success Stories...

The Celtic Manor Resort held a reception to mark National Apprenticeship Week and celebrate the milestone of developing 200 members of staffs with apprenticeship qualifications in partnership with Cambrian Training Company.

Members of ‘The 200’ who have progressed their careers within and beyond the resort gathered to reflect on their achievements and catch up over a drink.

Ben Jones


Ben Jones with Chris Bason, Head of Business Unit, Hospitality Cambrian Training

Ben joined the Celtic Manor Resort in 2012 as a culinary apprentice. Ben had no previous experience but a strong interest in all things cooking.

Ben was one of 20 culinary apprentices who joined at the same time and many of them have gone on to great things… Ben is no exception!

He started on a Level 2 Craft Cuisine apprenticeship pathway.

“It was challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. I loved the camaraderie of the kitchens and my head chef and the Cambrian Training assessor gave me such great support and guidance. After finishing the level 2, I went on to do my level 3 and continued to build from there.

“I am now Sous Chef at The Black Bear in Bettwys Newydd – a Michelin Plate restaurant that this year was in the Top 47 restaurants in the UK. My ambition is to help my team get our first Michelin star.

“Would I recommend an apprenticeship qualification to budding chefs out there? Absolutely. It will set you up for life!"


Rebecca Lewis 

Rebecca Lewis with Tracy Israel, Head of Learning & Development The Celtic Collection

Rebecca (Becky) joined the first ever cohort of Hotel & Hospitality Apprentices at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2017. As part of this role, she succeeded in gaining her Level 2 in Hospitality Services.

What was the experience of gaining the qualification like?

“We got the opportunity to experience all operational departments within the Resort, from Reception to Restaurant, Concierge to Housekeeping. It was great to be able to see what went on in all departments – and the work we did was our evidence for our qualification portfolio.

“It really was ‘learning while earning’. The qualification took place in work time so there was no pressure to do any work in my own personal time. We had some written tasks, but a lot of it was about demonstrating to our assessor that we were able to do the task - like make a cappuccino, present a bedroom to standard, etc. We took lots of photographs!”

Becky feels that the work and qualification experience had a tremendous effect on her – especially in building her confidence and self-esteem. Becky currently works as a dental receptionist and categorically states that the apprenticeship helped her move into this role - indeed, her line manager confirmed it to her on the first day!

Would Becky consider doing another apprenticeship qualification? Most definitely, and she is currently reviewing what best pathway to take.

Good luck Becky!   


Ffion Roberts 

Ffion Roberts with Tracy Israel, Head of L&D at The Celtic Collection

Ffion joined the first ever cohort of Hotel & Hospitality Apprentices at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2017. As part of this role, she succeeded in gaining her Level 2 in Hospitality Services.

What was the experience of gaining the qualification like?

“The whole role and qualification experience was a real eye-opener for me. I truly got a bird’s eye view of all things hospitality. The role and the course were really well supported and family and friends quickly noticed how much more confident and self-assured I was.

“The qualification helped me develop my problem-solving skills and I became far more agile in my way of thinking. I learned to handle conflict with confidence, manage my stress and how to keep calm. I loved the whole experience. I am now working in the Police as a call handler and I use the learning from my apprenticeship daily!”

Would I do another apprenticeship? 100%. I would recommend anyone to do one without hesitation.


Phoebe Swaddling

FPhoebe Swaddling with Tracy Israel, Head of L&D at The Celtic Collection

Phoebe began her Celtic Journey in 2013 as a Food & Beverage Associate, swiftly being promoted to Chef de Rang a few months later. Phoebe progressed from Level 2 Hospitality Services to Level 3 Hospitality Management & Supervision, being promoted to Senior Hostess at The Olive Tree Restaurant and being nominated as Apprentice of The Year in 2017.  

This qualification set Phoebe up well for an opportunity to move into a different area of hospitality – Front Office. On the back of her qualifications, she was very soon offered a role at The Coldra Court Hotel as a Front Desk Supervisor and since has moved into her current role of Billing and Control Assistant within the Finance team.

Would you consider doing another qualification?

“OMG – yes! In fact I want to sign up for the AAT Level 2 which will be a great opportunity for me to gain further qualifications for my current role.

“When interviwed for my current position I was able to speak about my achievements with pride and I was able to showcase how they enabled me to grow personally as well as professionally. For anyone considering an apprenticeship I say DO IT! You’re not only learning about hospitality but you’re learning about yourself and growing as a person.”


Karen Murray & Cherie Hale

Karen Murray and Cherie Hale

“The very, very best things for both of us from our Celtic Journeys have been the qualifications we have gained… and the fact that we found our best friend in each other!”

Karen Murray and Cherie Hale started at The Celtic Manor Resort within a few months of each other and became the very best of friends from the get-go. Karen came into the business as Assistant Manager in The Olive Tree while Cherie joined as an F&B Associate in Merlin’s Bar. Whilst Karen arrived with a Level 3 Hospitality Management & Supervision qualification under her belt, she soon persuaded Cherie to embark on a Level 2 Hospitality Services apprenticeship… and they never looked back.

Karen continued her development through the Level 4 Hospitality Management qualification and went on to be assistant manager at the Resort’s two rosette Steak on Six restaurant.

How did your qualifications shape you?

“From very early on, friends and family began to see a differnce in me. More confident, patient, focused… the change was quite easy to see. Your assessor spends time with you, reviewing what you’ve worked on, supporting and offering help to get you to the next step,” says Karen

Cherie agrees by saying the confidence that she built allowed her to believe in her own abilities much more – so much so she put herself forward to join The Celtic Manor Resort’s Operational Traineeship Program in 2017... and got onto the program!

“My apprenticeship experience definitely influenced the way I performed at interview as well as demonstrated to the program leaders that I was someone who wanted to keep learning. And it’s continued… can you believe it? Twelve months ago I was apponited as Manager of Brewdog House & Kitchen Micro Brewery in Cardiff. Thank you Celtic Manor Resort and Cambrian Training for the great opportunities. I am where I am because of these two great businesses!”



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