A YOUNG apprentice has reached the regional final of the prestigious National Apprenticeship Awards.

Ollie Beardsley, 18, has been shortlisted in recognition of how an apprenticeship helped him to become the youngest pub licensee in the country.

He sat his pub licensee exam in 2011 when he was just 17 and now has his name above the door at the Old Fleece in Woodchester.

Ollie, who left Marling School in 2010 after completing his GCSEs, is currently taking a Level 3 NVQ in Food and Beverage and a module in leadership.

He said: "The apprenticeship has helped me to develop my life since leaving school. It just shows that you don't have to go to university to get somewhere."

Having grown up living above the pub, Ollie knew he was destined to follow his father Nick into the pub trade.

The Old Fleece was taken over by Nick and business partner Christophe Coquoin 19 years ago. They now have five pubs in the Stroud valleys.

The award will be hotly contested at a ceremony organised by the National Apprenticeship Service on October 4, at the Holiday Inn, Filton, Bristol.

Dr John Chudley, of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: "We received an outstanding calibre of entries to this year's awards and I would like to congratulate all the apprentices from Thames Valley on being short-listed and wish them the very best of luck."

All the regional winners will proceed through to a final national judging stage.