An Ystradgynlais pre-school teacher who survived a gas explosion and an Ammanford company have won awards relating to apprentices.

They were honoured at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2024 at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport.

Jessica Williams, 34, the inspirational preschool leader at Ser Bach y Cwm, Ystradgynlais, stood out from the nine award winners.

Following life changing injuries from a freak gas explosion in 2020, Ms Williams has built an impactful career and was aptly named Higher Apprentice of the Year.

Ms Williams credits her Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship in Children’s Care, Learning and Development, Leadership and Management, delivered by ACT Training, with her ability to continue and thrive in her career path.

Ms Williams said: "I have gone from being critically ill and fighting for my life to becoming a successful preschool leader.

"My journey has not been an easy one, but it has been incredible."

The Medium Employer of the Year award was won by TRJ Ltd, a construction company from Ammanford.

It was a fitting testament to the company's third-generation leaders who inherited it from former apprentice T. Richard Jones, who founded the business in 1935.

TRJ Ltd, currently employing 160 people, boasts 16 apprentices.

The firm’s training provider partnership includes Coleg Sir Gar, Skills Academy Wales @NPTC Group of Colleges and Bridgend College.

Other notable winners named were Needle Rock, an upholstery business established by ex-UK Government plant health inspector Dr Ali J. Wright, winning the Small Employer of the Year award, and Transport for Wales, bagging the Large Employer of the Year award.

The Tomorrow's Talent award went to Heledd Roberts, with Gwynfor Jones and Laura Chapman winning the Foundation Apprentice of the Year and Apprentice of the Year awards respectively.

Christine Bissex-Foster, chairperson of the judging panel, said: "This year's applications are a reflection of the extraordinary potential in Wales; they are of a very high standard.

"The winners and finalists have established a new benchmark for vocational education in Wales, and I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to everyone involved.

"I would also like to extend my thanks to the dedicated judging panel who give their time and expertise every year.”