We're celebrating Apprentice Week... here former beautician and mum Sarah Kenningley, 36, tells all about the role


It's National Apprentice Week and CHFT is joining the celebrations. Here we profile Sarah Kenningley in the latest of our Hello, My Name Is..... series 




My Name is..... Sarah Kenningley.

I am 36, I live in Huddersfield and I am new to the NHS.  I am happily married and have been blessed with three beautiful children, Harvey, Rhys and Evie.  Up until recently I have been lucky enough to be a stay at home mum and have had the enjoyment of bringing up my children up until they were all in full time education. However, I have always had a burning ambition to be a nurse and even went as far as applying to do a nursing degree, but my family came first and I would not have been able to commit to the role as I would have liked to. I have always been a caring person and wanted to help others and I always knew that being a nurse or working in a health care environment was the role for me.  Last year I saw an advert for  the Health Care Assistant Apprentice, having no previous experience in the health care setting I thought this would be fantastic opportunity for me to get my foot in the door and on the career path of eventually becoming a qualified nurse.  I am now six months in and have taken to the role really well and I love it. During this time I have taken advantage of the additional training available and have attended further training courses so I can now do  ECGs, cannulae and venepuncture.

What is your position? Health Care Assistant Apprentice


A bit about my background

After doing my A’ levels I went on an apprenticeship scheme with a company and went on to work in Sales after that for a company in Leeds. After having my first born I just couldn’t go back to that line of work as it was full on so I took a career break to focus all my time on my baby with my husband having a good job I was lucky to be able to do this. I then studied part time at The Whiterose School of Beauty where I did a beauty therapy diploma and various other relevant courses. After completing those  I worked for Lancome part time as their make-up artist. I then set up my own mobile beauty business and this fitted in perfectly with my children and family life.

Once my third child was ready for school, It was then that I decided to look into nursing as I felt it was now the right time for me. I knew I’d have the time to put 100% into it.

The best bits about my job

Providing the best care I can possibly give to have a direct influence on the patient getting better. Seeing a patient on admission and seeing how poorly they can be and playing a small part in helping them to get better,  to then seeing their health improve day by day and seeing them gain their  strength and confidence back and to then see them being discharged is such a good feeling of job satisfication. Also having great support from my assessors and my colleagues on my ward have helped me fit into the role better. It’s fantastic to work along side a great team and I look upto them and learn new things daily from them. Getting great feedback form my ward manager and support is also very satisfying . I really feel without these apprenticeship schemes I wouldn’t have been able to get into nursing or this line of work and do what I’ve always wanted to do. Especially now with university fees and no burseries etc.

Sum up your role in three words: Satisfying, Emotional and Rewarding.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? A nurse

Who is your hero/heroine and why?

My mum, because she has taught me to believe in myself and was a fab role model  growing up. She’s always been a great mum/ grandmother and worked so hard and she had an amazing career and just recently retired. My mum has taught me that you can be a great mum and it’s ok to have career too.

When you are not at work how do you relax? Spending time with my beautiful family.

What is your favourite place? Home

What would people be surprised to know about you? I was born in Germany.


Sarah is one of 60 clinical apprentices currently at CHFT.

We recruit every two months and our apprentices work in many clinical roles including that of HCA, like Sarah who is based on ward 11 at HRI. There are also non-clinical roles in areas such as admin, customer service and finance.

Pam Wood,  Michelle Ward and Jeanette Riley lead the Vocational Learning Team who recruit, train and support clinical apprentices. Michelle, said: “ There is no upper age limit and Sarah is an ideal role model for the other apprentices. She is managing family commitments and loving her job. She is a brilliant apprentice and really supportive. Not all apprentices are 18-year-olds.”

Michelle said the experience gained by apprentices during the 12 months of the scheme has proved incredibly valuable for many apprentices as it provides the 12 months’ clinical environment experience they needed to apply for other roles. Some apprentices have gone on to apply for Medical School places, become nurses, midwives and paramedics, for example, proving the apprenticeship scheme can be an excellent springboard into further development and career progression.

A recent salary hike has made the role more attractive  and our team is out and about this week at Kirklees College  and Wakefield College working together with an excellent network of contacts to recruit local students into the scheme.

Michelle said anyone internally at CHFT who may be looking to leave a non-clinical role and to be more hands on in patient care could also apply. They are invited to email  VLT@cht.nhs.uk to express their interest.

We started the scheme in July 2013 and are currently in the process of recruiting two more assessors to support our growing numbers of apprentices.