North East Businesses

GAS to represent North East at National Apprenticeship Awards

Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) will fly the flag for North East businesses after scooping top spot in the regional heats of the National Apprenticeship Awards.

The Group was named ‘Newcomer SME of the Year’ at the regional finals of the awards, held on Thursday 6 October at The Royal York Hotel, York.

The awards celebrate the best apprenticeship schemes in the country and GAS overcame strong opposition to have its programme crowned winner.

‘Newcomer SME of The Year’ is open to companies with a scheme under two years old and with less than 250 staff.

GAS was advised to enter the awards by scheme delivery partner Talent Training UK following a successful first eight months and the confirmation of a second intake this October.

It seems the judges agreed with this assessment, selecting a total of 81 regional finalists from more than 1,000 entries. GAS will attend the national finals early in 2017 at Grosvenor House, London, where the UK’s very best apprenticeship schemes will be named.

Judith Bennison, Group HR Director at Great Annual Savings Group, said: “We’re thrilled to have been recognised by the National Apprenticeship Awards in an area we feel so passionately about at Great Annual Savings Group.

“To win this award for our achievements in the first year of our scheme is a great result for the Group. But it’s also testament to the hard work our Apprentices put in on a daily basis to excel in their roles and prove that young people can add real value in the workplace. I couldn’t pick any of our Apprentices out for praise individually because they’re all doing so well in their respective areas. They’re a credit to themselves and the scheme itself.

“Our commitment to generating apprenticeships and jobs in the North East will continue as the business grows further and we’re proud to be representing the region in the national finals of the awards in 2017.”

Sue Husband, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “The National Apprenticeship Awards enable exceptional apprentices and dedicated employers to receive the recognition they richly deserve. Apprenticeships enable people to gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed – in some cases up to degree level; and for businesses to grow the talent they need.

“I would like to congratulated Great Annual Savings Group on the achievement. Winning this award is greatly deserved. There has never been a better time to become an apprentice or employ one.”

The Great Annual Savings Group Apprenticeship Scheme was launched in August 2015, when nine apprentices were hired from over 400 applicants. Current Apprentices are training in a variety of disciplines, including: sales, human resources, compliance and business administration.

The second year intake has just been completed, with new recruits beginning their careers in ecommerce and marketing, customer experience and energy management.
Click here for further information on our Apprenticeship Scheme.


Sign up to our NewsletterStay up to date with the latest industry news and offers.

Share this post

Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.


“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.