Leyland apprentice Rebecca recognised in manufacturing awards

Leyland Trucks’ first ever female prototype apprentice has been crowned the Apprentice of the Year at the 2021 Made in the North West Awards.

Recognised for her trailblazing attitude to engineering and ability to inspire other females to enter the sector, Rebecca Wood (21) beat three other competitors to take the accolade at a ceremony held at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester.

Rebecca joined Leyland Trucks as a fabrication apprentice in 2016, having recently left school. She completed her fabrication qualification in August 2020 before moving into the company’s design department in January 2021. She’s since been promoted to chassis design engineer and is currently undertaking a master’s degree in engineering management.

The Made in the North West Awards acknowledges and celebrates the cream of North West manufacturing, recognising businesses that are amongst the most pioneering and dynamic in the world.

Speaking of her win, Rebecca said: “I’m shocked and extremely honoured to have received this award, and to be recognised alongside some outstanding individuals and businesses that make UK manufacturing what it is today.

“As soon as I stepped foot inside Leyland Trucks HQ all those years ago, I knew I wanted to work here. From day one, I’ve received incredible support from people who’ve been as passionate about my progression as I am, who’ve instilled confidence in me and who have worked hard to bring out my full potential. Even though I’m no longer an apprentice, I’m still inundated with opportunities to develop my skills and grow as a person and professional. My focus now is on ensuring other young women like me are offered the opportunity I was to pursue such an exciting career path.

“I have dedicated my award to Syd Zinga, my former mentor at Leyland Trucks who inspired me and so many other people by sharing his amazing knowledge of manufacturing and passed on his well-honed skills. Very sadly, Syd passed away of COVID-19 earlier this year, so I want to continue inspiring younger generations of engineers just as he did so that his legacy lives on. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and I know he would be very proud of me.”

Stuart Derbyshire, prototype manager at Leyland Trucks, and who was Rebecca’s manager when she was an apprentice, said: “Since the moment we met Rebecca we knew she would do incredible things for herself, for our organisation and for the many other female apprentices who want to break into this sector.

“Her progression through the ranks over the last five years is testament to her dedication and passion, and we are incredibly proud that one of our own has been recognised in this competitive category at the awards. We have true belief in Rebecca’s potential to make big waves across our industry, and we look forward to seeing her flourish.”