Typically Holidays Trade Support Manager Tony Byrne is celebrating after getting a distinction in an apprenticeship programme he enrolled on during COVID.
Tony even had to sit Maths and English exams in order to pass the programme, because he didn’t have proof he’d taken them at school 50 years ago.
His studies had to be put on hold after he was diagnosed with spine cancer two years ago, but, after recovering from surgery to replace part of his spine with pins, he was determined to carry on with the course.
He found out on Wednesday that he’s qualified as a Marketing Content Creator, which carries an NVQ qualification equivalent to two A-levels.
Tony was supported throughout the course by staff at AS Training, run by former Advantage Travel Partnership National Account Manager Michelle Van Sprang (pictured below).
Tony said: “When COVID started, I decided to do a lot of research and online training programmes and, over about six to eight months, I really got stuck into it.
“Then I started an apprenticeship with AS Training.
“In July 2021 I got diagnosed with spine cancer and I spent four weeks in hospital. While I was in hospital they also advised that I had had a stroke.
“I was given the all-clear from cancer 15 months ago and I’m due to retire at the end of the year – I’ve been on the road for 35 years, including eight-and-a-half years with Typically Holidays.
“The course covered creating a web site, video, copyright law, AI and marketing a business, among other subjects and I had to do a total of nine hours of exams.
“It was a long haul, but I got there in the end and I was absolutely made up to get a distinction at 65 years of age.”
AS Training owner Michelle said: “When COVID kicked in, Tony decided he wanted to learn more skills and got in touch with us to ask: ‘Am I told old to do the apprenticeship?’
“We told him he absolutely was not too old and we encouraged him.
“He’s worked really closely with his assessor and has put in a tremendous amount of effort, especially considering his health issues.
“The work that he’s able to do now is next level. He’s our oldest student and our biggest advocate.
“It just goes to show you are never too old to learn.”
After he retires, Tony wants to set up a small consultancy that utilises his new skills and would like to help new apprentices in the industry.
Michelle, who previously worked at Gold Medal and The Holiday Team before joining Advantage, set up AS Training in 2020 and works with several travel businesses on their training programmes. The company is just about to take on its biggest number of travel apprentices to date.