DECLAN Campion has always had to work that little bit harder than most to get where he wants to be in life.
A talented athlete and footballer, Mr Campion has also had to battle with a hearing impairment his whole life.
He’s well-known for going hard on the footy field, but less known is how that commitment is matched in his work as a wall and floor tiling apprentice.
Though he’s only in his first year as an apprentice, he’s quickly made an impression – enough to be awarded a Bert Evans Scholarship, one of 85 awarded to apprentices across the state by the NSW government.
The $15,000 scholarship, paid over three years, is named after Bert Evans, a tireless champion and advocate for VET training and the careers it can provide.
Mr Campion said winning the scholarship would have a huge impact on his career.
“I’m very excited, but I’m pretty shocked as well,” he said.
“It’s definitely going to set up my life, my future.”
One of the biggest influences on his burgeoning career has been his employer, Joel Hartley.
Like Mr Campion, Mr Hartley has never let his own hearing impairment be an obstacle in achieving his dreams, making him an ideal mentor.
Fittingly, the pair bonded over their mutual love of football.
“We met through football, he was playing deaf footy as a young kid at 15,” Mr Hartley said.
“He started off doing a bit of plumbing but didn’t like it, then I suggested he come and work for me, and we got the ball rolling from there.
“There were a few communication issues at the start but we’re working through it - it’s all about being aware of your surroundings on a worksite.
“I think there are a lot of similarities between Declan and I, and I thought it would be better for him to work with another deaf person.”
Training Services NSW regional manager Garry Whittaker said winning the scholarship was no mean feat.
“It’s quite significant – we don’t hand the scholarships out on a platter,” he said.
“There’s a hardship element to Declan’s scholarship, but you also need to be performing at work and excelling at TAFE, and the testimonials that came through with his application demonstrated that significantly.”