TODAY the shortlist of finalists for The Golden Apple Awards 2018 is revealed.

There were hundreds of educators and learners from across Cumbria put forward for the prestigious awards.

Championing the county's unsung heroes in our schools, colleges, nurseries and industry, The Golden Apple Awards are delivered by CN Group and run in associate partnership with the University of Cumbria and The Centre of Nuclear Excellence.

The 2018 judges were; Signy Henderson, dean for student success at the University of Cumbria, Nigel Pattinson, ex headteacher of Ullswater Community College, Paddy Gorrill, programme manager for skills at The Centre of Nuclear Excellence and Natalie Chapples, education and skills reporter for The Mail.

On behalf of the judges, Miss Chapples said: "We were delighted with the quality and quantity of entries put forward for the Golden Apple Awards 2018. The judging process was interesting, informative and challenging as there were so many worthy candidates. We were very proud to see the passion, energy and sheer hard work happening throughout education and learning in Cumbria."

Golden Apple Awards 2018 shortlist of finalists

AGAINST ALL ODDS AWARD - Nathan Milburn, Barrow Sixth Form College (Furness College).

BEST APPRENTICE - Conor Alexander, Lakes College, Workington; Rebecca Mooney, Carlisle College.

BEST COMMUNITY INITIATIVE - Furness College, Barrow; Ormsgill Nursery and Primary School, Barrow; We Will, Ewanrigg Local Trust, Maryport.

BEST EARLY YEARS PROVIDER - Lamplugh CE School and Nursery, Frizington; St Bee's Little Learners Nursery: Yellow Bus Chilcare, Bernadette Jones, Workington.

BEST EDUCATION AND LEARNING LEADER - Samantha Addison, HIT Training Ltd, Penrith; Cherry Tingle, Energy Coast UTC, Workington; Andrew Wren, Furness College, Barrow.

BEST EDUCATION PROFESSION NEWCOMER - Stephen Blackwell, Lakes College and National College for Nuclear, Workington; Mathew Crouch, Yanwath Primary School, Penrith; Richard Gardiner, Newton Rigg College, Penrith.

BEST EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME - Nucleargraduates, Workington; Sellafield Union Learning Centre, Seascale; Ward 4, West Cumberland Hospital and Tissue Viability Nurses, Workington.

BEST FURTHER EDUCATION PROVIDER - Furness College, Barrow; Lakes College, Workington; Newton Rigg College, Penrith.

BEST INCLUSION INITIATIVE - Educla, Carlisle; Kick Start Project, Barrow; North Allerdale Development Trust (Early Intervention Programme), Wigton; Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Teaching Support Team (Carlisle and Eden).

BEST INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVE - The Centre for Leadership Performance, Cockermouth; Nick Hall, Aroma Catering, Ulverston Victoria High School; The Renewable Energy Project (Energy Coast UTC and Morgan Sindall), Workington.

BEST LEARNING, DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING - Cumbria Training Centre, Barrow; Educla, Carlisle; The PGCE (Non QTS) Design and Delivery Team, Institute of Education, University of Cumbria.

BEST PRIMARY SCHOOL - Fairfield Primary School, Cockermouth; Lee Hills CE Primary, Brampton; Newton Primary School, Newton.

BEST SECONDARY SCHOOL - Energy Coast UTC, Workington; Furness Academy, Barrow; Netherall School, Maryport.

BEST STUDENT - Jacob Leach, Energy Coast UTC, Workington; David Mitchell, Furness College, Barrow; Alice Whysall-Price, Newton Rigg College, Penrith.

BEST SUPPORT STAFF - Jo Burleigh, Energy Coast UTC, Workington; Stephen Fenwick, Barrow Sixth Form College (Furness College); Mental Health and Well-Being Staff Team, University of Cumbria.

BEST TEACHING ASSISTANT - Sandra Allen, Belle Vue Primary School, Carlisle; Carol Forster, Fir Ends Primary School, Carlisle; Natalie Shaw, Furness College, Barrow.

BEST TEACHING PROFESSIONAL - Dave Barlow, Ulverston Victoria High School; Sheena Kar, St Benedict’s Catholic High School, Whitehaven, Kerryann Wilson, Energy Coast UTC, Workington.

BEST USE OF TECHNOLOGY - Dalton St Mary's CE Primary School; Erin Strickland, Fairfield Primary School, Cockermouth; Newton Rigg College Farms, Penrith.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD - Denis Fay, Ulverston Victoria High School.

PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD (public vote in September) - Rachel Esposito, Primary Programme Lead (School Direct), Kendal; Alan Gillon, Beacon Museum, Whitehaven; Kate Hodgson, Barnardo's Children Centre and RWP Training, Carlisle; Little Lambs Nursery, St Pius X Catholic Primary School, Barrow; Callum Slater and Jacob McSweeney, Barrow Sixth Form College (Furness College).

All the shortlisted finalists will be invited to attend The Golden Apples Awards 2018 ceremony at Carlisle Racecourse on Friday October 5.

Cumbria is a “heartland” for skills and education development

Ken McEwan, director The Centre of Nuclear Excellence, said: "The Centre of Nuclear Excellence is delighted to be an associate partner of the Golden Apple Awards 2018 and we are extremely proud to support this fantastic way of recognising and championing the unsung heroes amongst our education and learning providers.

"Development of our people, of all ages and abilities, is key to building the workforce we need for the future and this needs to be appreciated and celebrated wherever it can.

"Cumbria is a “heartland” for skills and education development and by sustaining and promoting this we can support opportunities for our young people and even attract others to live and work here too."

Professor Julie Mennell, vice chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said The Golden Apple Awards showcase "the ability and dedication of those involved in the education sector across the county".

Prof Mennell said: "The University of Cumbria is proud to support education and learning in all its forms and at all levels, and in this context is delighted to be sponsor of this year’s Golden Apples.

"We strive to ensure our students are prepared for work and for life, encouraged to achieve their personal and professional potential through a high quality learning experience provided in a supportive environment, using the latest technology and delivering innovative, flexible and student-centred learning.

"Privileged to work with a range of partners in the region, we consider them crucial to our success, sharing research, scholarship and knowledge transfer excellence. Together we help shape and promote social, cultural and economic development in support of the social inclusion and sustainable communities agenda."