Luke Roxburgh named MTAQ Apprentice of the Year

Luke Roxburgh, a 28-year-old second-year Light Vehicle apprentice with Absolute Car Care in Brisbane, is the MTAQ Apprentice of the Year for 2015. Presented with the award, and the $2000 prize, at the MTAQ President’s Ball in October, it was, said Luke, a tremendous surprise to hear his name called out as this year’s winner.

“I was shocked,” said Luke. “I wasn’t expecting it. When they made the announcement I wondered if it was my name I heard! I was surprised I could go up on the stage and say anything because my knees were shaking!”

Joined by his mum, step-dad and work colleagues, it didn’t take long for the news of Luke’s success to spread, and by the time he had returned to his table, excited friends and family were calling him.

“Mum posted something on my Facebook page right after the announcement was made,” said Luke. “My friends and family found out that way and began calling me!”

Being named the Apprentice of the Year is a remarkable achievement for Luke, for there was a time when he thought a career as a mechanic would be beyond him. At the age of just 17, and in his first year as an apprentice mechanic, he suffered dreadful injuries when he was hit by a train before being trapped beneath it after being dragged along the tracks. He was extremely fortunate to survive what happened that day, though he has been left with permanent physical impairments.

“I was trapped for about an hour-and-a-half and emergency services were considering removing my legs,” said Luke. “Fortunately, they were able to get me out. I was in a coma for a month and had skin, muscle and bone grafts but thanks to great doctors I was able to keep my arm and my legs.”

Luke subsequently spent eight months in hospital, another year wheelchair-bound, and had to teach himself to become left-handed.

His career as a mechanic appeared to be over before it had started. However, fast forward ten years and Luke picked up his apprenticeship once more after being offered work experience with Michael Georgas and his team at Absolute Car Care. And after two years of hard work and graft, that commitment has resulted in the Apprentice of the Year Award – a result that has given Luke extra motivation to battle through and accomplish his dream of becoming a tradesperson.

“Some days I do get down because I know I could do so much better if I didn’t have these injuries,” he said. “But I know I just have to move on and move forward and this has just made me more determined. I know that no matter how hard things get I am definitely going to finish.”

For Michael Georgas, Luke’s boss at Absolute Car Care, news of Luke’s win made for a very proud moment.

“All the nominated apprentices were great candidates,” said Michael. “But Luke has so many good attributes that I always thought he was a chance. I’m not a betting man but I thought he was up there!

“We’re all proud of him and the result has really lifted the whole team. Everyone is striving just a little bit harder to improve themselves. Luke’s circumstances inspire you to do better as an individual because of the adversity he has faced and the pain he still feels every day.”

James Dixon, Luke’s trainer at MTA Institute, was similarly proud of Luke’s achievement.

“I’ve been training Luke for just over two years and his progression has been great,” he said. “And to see the expression on his face when he won was terrific.

“I think he will become an excellent role model, especially to new apprentices,” added James. “I am sure he will become a real inspiration for everyone in the industry.”

For Luke, being named the MTAQ Apprentice of the Year has been a great thrill and the $2000 prize has enabled him to buy some new Snap-On tools, but it hasn’t changed his priorities or his goals. They are still what they were when he walked back into a workshop two years ago.

“I haven’t thought past finishing my apprenticeship,” he said. “That’s my goal and that’s all I’m determined to do at the moment.”