Bombala, Delegate auto apprentices rate highly at CIT prize night

Two young automotive apprentices from the district have rated highly in recent industry awards.

At the Canberra Institute of Technology Automotive and Metal Fabrication Prize Night, mechanic Michael Lewis of Delegate was named Apprentice of the Year.

Meanwhile, Bombala apprentice Scott Hepburn picked up Most Improved Student in Panel Beating.

Michael, 23, said he was given some indication he had been nominated for an award, but being named the year’s best “was a bit unexpected”.

He works on the three-person family team at Delegate Motors with his father Craig and uncle Steven.

“I think I can put my name up on the wall as employee of the month now,” Michael said with a laugh.

Michael said he has completed what would usually be a four-year apprenticeship within two-and-a-half years.

“I only started when I was 21 and now I’m finished at 23 – I just put my head down and worked hard,” he said.

Father Craig said running a business in a small country town had its challenges at times, but the trio were “generally reasonably busy” and business was picking up of late.

“A good thing about being a mechanic in a small town is that he gets a variety of work,” Craig said of Michael’s introduction to the family business.

“Instead of just being on service inspections every day he gets to work on everything, gearboxes, diffs, etc – and on a variety of vehicles.”

Craig said the award was a real thrill for them.

Scott works as a panel beater for Clinton and Rochelle Badewitz at Platypus Crash Repairs of Bombala.

“I love it,” he said of his work, “and they are good people to work for.”

For Scott it’s not just about the rural town standard of knocking dents out of bonnets.

“If we’re not doing general insurance work we also paint hearses for Hammond Conversions in Pambula, or restoration jobs.

“We’ve just finished a VK Commodore and I’m now starting on an XT Falcon ute.

“I want to take it further and hopefully next year get more into metal shaping and custom car building.”

He was quite pleased about the CIT award, which, like Michael’s, was only hinted at ahead of the awards night held in Canberra.

“I think everyone here [at Platypus Crash Repairs] is pretty impressed,” he said.

CIT has provided technical and further education in the ACT and surrounding area for 90 years.

It trains around 20,000 students each year, offering more than 400 courses ranging from apprenticeships and certificate level training through to diplomas, bachelor degrees and graduate certificates.