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Apprentices who had the rare opportunity of a visit to McLaren’s flagship technology centre described the trip as being ‘one of the coolest things they had ever seen’ and was ‘an amazing tour that money couldn’t buy.’

The group of ten were finalists in the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre’s Apprentice of the Year Awards 2021, with the delayed ceremony being held earlier this year. Part of their prize was a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to the headquarters of McLaren Racing and McLaren Automotive, which was gifted to them by the awards’ headline sponsor, Stanley Black & Decker and its offshoot manufacturing company, DEWALT.

Kate Todd-Davis, a manufacturing engineer for Rolls-Royce, who was crowned the overall ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at the awards, said: “The McLaren Technology Centre is a very impressive, world-class manufacturing facility and it’s one of the coolest places I have ever seen. 

“It was fascinating to see the evolution of Formula One (F1) cars on display and having the opportunity to go into the manufacturing areas and see the different technologies they use.”  

From the outside, the Woking-based facility has a picturesque green landscape surrounding it – reminiscent of a scene taken straight from a Jane Austen novel – and from above it looks like the Chinese symbol of Yin and Yang. But it is on inside where heaven on Earth can be found for car fanatics.  

As soon as you set foot through the door, visitors are greeted by a sea of colour in the shape of legendary McLaren racing cars from throughout history, alongside a showcase of McLaren sports cars through the ages.   

With glass windows as far as the eye can see, the facility also houses a fully-operational manufacturing facility for all of its F1 demands, countless trophy cabinets showcasing their achievements spanning several decades, as well as its impressive sports car production centre, which is a dream sight for any serious petrolhead. 

Jack Gascoigne, a project engineer at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), said the trip was brilliant. He added: “I am a big F1 fan and I’ve gone from never seeing an F1 car before, to then getting to see about 20 in one day. 

“I could not stop smiling the whole time. My highlight of the tour was getting to hold Daniel Ricciardo’s steering wheel. It was a visit like no other and will be hard to top – it was an amazing once- in-a-lifetime tour that money cannot buy.”

Connor Blades, who is a process engineer for Stanley Black & Decker, says the tour was the best experience of his life. 

“It felt such a privilege to get to go and see the McLaren facility. I love F1, but even for people that don’t, you can still appreciate the centre and what’s there,” said Connor. 

“It’s cool to be able to tie in a work trip around something that I enjoy as a hobby. My favourite part of the visit was when I walked into the sports car production area and saw the McLaren cars being built. 

“I feel very grateful that from undertaking an apprenticeship at the AMRC Training Centre, it has allowed me the chance to access such a place.”

Anne Griggs, head of business development and contracts at the AMRC Training Centre, said it was great to see the apprentices receive such a fantastic opportunity. “We are so thrilled that our apprentices were given such an amazing prize to visit McLaren’s HQ,” she added. 

“Our apprentices work very hard, so it’s good to see that their efforts are rewarded and are given the chance to visit such industry-forward facilities.”