AN INTERNATIONAL athlete and gold medal winning Paralympian is undergoing training of a different kind – a year-long apprenticeship scheme in Tredegar to become a Smart Energy expert with British Gas.

Paralympic gold and double bronze medallist Sam Hynd retired from swimming this month at the age of 22 and is now training as a British Gas apprentice.

Mr Hynd, who is from Rogerstone in Newport, is one of around 1,000 young people starting their careers with the company, gaining hands-on skills, training and qualifications.

Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week beginning on March 3, he spoke to the Argus about retiring from swimming and his new career path.

He was was diagnosed at birth with bilateral talipes, a condition often referred to as club foot, yet forged a professional career in swimming, securing a Gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games at the tender age of 17.

But now Mr Hynd believes after a decade of swimming competitively, it is time for a career change.

"I think we would all love to do it for he rest of our lives, but unfortunately that's just not possible," he said. "I felt that it was time for a change, and am now enrolled on an apprenticeship as a Smart Energy Expert."

He says he decided to apply for an apprenticeship with British Gas as he wanted to get into a career that would let him gain hands-on skills and a trade as well as a formal qualification.

He started his apprenticeship at the British Gas Academy in Tredegar, one of six training Academies based across the UK, last November. He is one of 28 apprentices currently on training programmes at the Tredegar Academy.

He added: “I know that being a physical job it will have its challenges, but I’m determined to work hard and complete my apprenticeship.

“Smart metering is the future of what we do, it’s new and exciting and I’m looking for a job that will keep me motivated, focused and let me stretch my physical and mental abilities.”

Ian Clarke, Academy Centre Manager at the British Gas Tredegar Academy said: “Sam is a sterling example of the enthusiastic apprentices we’ve had at the Academy over the years. Apprenticeships give young people like Sam the chance to gain hands-on skills, a formal qualification and a steady career."

Mr Hynd will complete his 54 week training course in November qualifying with a QCF in dual fuel Smart Metering. He then hopes to become a fully qualified Smart Energy Expert with British Gas.

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