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Co-op store manager crowned Apprentice of the Year

A Co-op store manager in Hull has scooped the prestigious Apprentice of the Year title in the national Retail Week Rising Stars Awards.

Rachel Lee is based at the Co-op’s food store in The Square, Hessle, and joined the retailer four years ago after previously working as a psychology teacher.

The award is described as a “celebration of emerging talent” and “an unrivalled example of endorsement for those who will shape the future of retail”.

Lee said, “I am thrilled to have received this award. I joined Co-op four years ago and the scheme literally launched my career – it has been the best thing that I have done, the support, development and opportunities are fantastic. The apprenticeship provides thorough step-by-step skills and knowledge on all aspects of business and retail, everything that you need.

'In addition to a nationally recognised qualification, it enables you to put your learnings into practise. When the judges talked about innovation, passion and community focus I didn’t realise at first that they were talking about me, I had taken my mum along to the awards event, and it proved to be an unforgettable experience for both of us - I was completely surprised by the award, proud and honoured to receive such recognition.”

The Co-op has around 900 apprentices at any time across Food, Funeralcare, Insurance and, a wide variety of support centre roles.

Catherine Muirden, Co-op HR Director, Food Retail, said, “We are delighted for Rachel, it is very well deserved and recognises real passion and commitment both in store and in the community.

'At the Co-op, inclusivity and diversity is at the heart of what we do. Our aim is for our stores to play a real part in local life, making a difference in communities – however, we cannot achieve our ambitions without a great team, and by developing a pipeline of talent, skills and experiences which represent the communities which we serve today and, tomorrow.

'Unlocking the significant potential that exists is key. Our nationwide apprenticeship programme is open to people of any age with the right levels of skill and enthusiasm, a genuine passion for customer service, and a strong sense of community.”

Rachel Lee (centre) is pictured with actress and comedian Sally Phillips and Richard Small, Head of People, Radley + Co who was a Retail Week Rising Stars Awards judge.