The stars of retail were celebrated last week at the Skillsmart Retail Rising Stars Awards, held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

The cream of talent from across the UK came together for the annual awards ceremony, with star guest Theo Paphitis, to find out who would take home the honours.

Almost 80 people and teams from a range of businesses and skills shops across the country battled it out in 17 categories, hoping to get their hands on one of the much sought after trophies.

We caught up with “Skillsmart Retail Apprentice of the Year” 17-year-old April Bell who works for Monica F Hewitt Florists in Sheffield. April is working towards a Level 2 apprenticeship in Retail with The Source Skills Academy in Sheffield.

April said: “I had convinced myself that I hadn’t won it, I was seated next to Theo Paphitis and thought, well, whatever happens I’ve had a right good night!

“I’m just waiting for my results in English, and then hopefully I can go onto Level 3. I’m hoping to study for some First Aid qualifications too. My ambition is to get properly trained and qualified, then one day I’d like to have my own florists. I’d love that.”

The Source Skills Academy is based in Meadowhall shopping centre.

Managing Director Ann Cadman told FE Week: “The Rising Star Awards are among the most prestigious awards in the Retail Sector. We are delighted for April and to be crowned Retail Apprentice of the Year is great testament to her hard work and dedication. April truly is a rising star and we are proud to celebrate her achievement.”

Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis said: “Winning the Apprentice of the Year Award is a massive achievement. The competition was of a very high standard and April is a great example of the drive, commitment, enthusiasm and sheer passion required to make it in retail.

“April shows every sign of becoming one of tomorrow’s retail leaders and I look forward to seeing her develop her career in what I believe to be the most dynamic and exciting industry.”

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