HALTON students embarking on new careers were honoured at the UK’s biggest apprenticeship graduation.

They joined more than 400 people at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral for the landmark event.

Runcorn apprentice Clare Cunningham, aged 39, who studied to be teaching assistant at Riverside College, said: "It was a fantastic service, a beautiful venue and there were great speeches.

“I loved getting to meet other people who did similar courses.

“From the moment we walked in the door, everyone was congratulating us and telling us how hard we have worked. It really made it all feel worthwhile. I think often enough people think 'oh, it's nothing' when it comes to apprenticeships, but events like this make people realise how good they are.

“The apprenticeship graduation will hopefully raise awareness and get more people doing them.”

More apprentices have qualified in Merseyside than any other region in the country.

Riverside College apprentice Tom Dally, aged 22, who studied advanced motor vehicle studies, said: “I think it was a great event, and I hope it becomes a bigger thing with each year.

“Having a big celebration like this at the end of an apprenticeship will make people want to do them more, which is definitely a good thing. I always wanted to go into motor vehicle maintenance and my apprenticeship made that happen."

Guest speaker Olympic gold medallist Ashley Terron said: “It’s fantastic that apprentices have been properly recognised and been able to formally celebrate achieving their qualification with family and friends.

“As a former bricklaying apprentice, I wish I could have experienced an apprenticeship graduation when I completed my qualification two years ago.”

The celebration on April 29 was organised by The Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Hub, made up of six local authorities, including Halton Council.

Hub chairman Siobhan Saunders said: “It was a superb day,thanks to the incredible atmosphere and enthusiasm among the graduates and their families.

“The ceremonies were hugely successful in showcasing the variety and value of apprenticeships and vocational learning, but more than that, they were fitting celebrations of hard work and dedication that might otherwise have been overlooked.”