A 17-year-old carpenter who was forced to flee his home country has beat thousands of other hopefuls from across the UK to be named apprentice of the year.

Carpentry apprentice Seth Barton, who lives in Norwich, won the regional heat of the Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) 2023 Master Builder Awards in April, and last week was handed the national title too.

Mr Barton fled his home town of East Gippsland in Australia in 2019 when wild fires ripped through the region.

He has been living in the UK on a human rights visa known as a "discretionary leave to remain" visa.

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: Inspiring teenage carpenter Set Barton has been named apprentice of the yearInspiring teenage carpenter Set Barton has been named apprentice of the year (Image: Woburn Partners)

Unfortunately, because of this status, Mr Barton found himself being rejected from several training programmes.

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But his luck changed last year when he was taken on as an apprentice by Attleborough carpentry firm Neways, which has worked on projects for clients including Sir Elton John and Paul McCartney.

And after 12 months of 100pc attendance from the youngster, his hard work paid off as he was announced apprentice of the year at the National Master Builder Awards.

The youngster's story gripped judges, with Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, praising him for his "immense passion and drive despite the challenges he has faced."

The apprentice was handed the award by television presenter Nick Knowles at a ceremony at Grosvenor House in London and said the experience had been life changing.

He said: “I'm going to carry this all my life. It may just be 'Apprentice of the Year', but it's a thrill.” 

Mr Barton is also studying for a diploma in psychology at City College, which he said he hopes will set him apart in his trade by having a greater understanding of human behaviour.