A former plumber who swapped his tool box for tractors has scooped a top farm apprenticeship award.

Elliot Yates, 21, of Tollesbury in Essex, was named Farm Apprentice of the Year at Suffolk New College's annual apprenticeship awards.

He got hooked on farming after helping out at harvest and then being offered an opening at Maydays - a farm in West Mersea, near Colchester.

"I worked as a plumber but was drawn to farming. I did a harvest, I was kept on by the farm where I worked and then an opportunity opened up at Maydays," he said.

Poppy Kirby, 20, from Terrington St Clement in Norfolk scooped the horticulture apprentice of the year award.

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They were among top-performing apprentices from across the region who were celebrated at a ceremony held at Chefs’ Whites - the college's in-house restaurant based in Ipswich - earlier this month.

Elliot admitted that when he was first notified by the college of his achievement via email he thought it might be junkmail - but did some research and found out it was genuine. Now he hopes it will further his career prospects.

"Winning the award will help me in the future as I look to climb the career ladder and gain a more senior position,” he said.

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“I chose this route as I wanted to get to know the ins and outs of farming and gain a qualification and it’s been good. I drive the combine, do cultivation and spraying – I do a bit of everything."

College principal Alan Pease congratulated both of the land-based apprentices on their achievement.

“These awards are always one of the highlights of the year," he said.

"It is brilliant to be able to bring our students, staff and industry together to celebrate success during this event that is held during a national campaign to champion these brilliant qualifications. Well done to all of our winners and congratulations to Elliot and Poppy.”

Suffolk New College and Suffolk Rural currently support around 750 apprentices and work with hundreds of businesses.