AN apprentice at Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick is flying high after winning a prestigious national award.

Sara Underwood, 21, Higher Technical apprentice has scooped the Mary George Memorial Award in the Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards.

Sara picked up the award from the Institution of Engineering and Technology at a high profile ceremony in London. The national award is awarded annually to an ‘outstanding female engineering apprentice’.

Judges said she made a contribution within her workplace beyond the realms of her normal duties. The panel also found she demonstrated a dynamic approach in creating solutions to engineering problems.

In addition to her prize and trophy she will also be invited to attend high profile events throughout the year. As part of her apprenticeship, Sara spent most of the first year at Blackburn’s Training 2000.

Sara said: “It’s amazing because I have always loved science, maths and technology but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

“Then one day I saw a documentary on Rolls Royce and I was just so impressed I decided I wanted to pursue a career with them.”

Sara will start her BEng in Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Liverpool John Moores University in January 2014.

She hopes to continue her career at Rolls-Royce after her degree and also wants to undertake a Masters degree as she works towards Chartered Engineer status.

Sara, who started her apprenticeship in September 2011 is involved in helping to promote apprenticeships to young people across East Lancashire.

The scheme has seen her participate in schools, career and recruitment fairs and an after-school engineering club.

She said: “I’m now in my third year and I really enjoy the challenging and fast-paced learning environment. Two years ago I would not have anticipated this career path and now I can’t imagine doing anything different.

“There are so many opportunities for women in engineering, so I am keen to inspire others to take on the challenge and work in this exciting sector.”

Wayne Ramsbottom, her career development advisor at Training 2000, added: “Sara is a real all-rounder and has proven to be an enthusiastic role model, encouraging other young women to enter the profession of engineering.”