Stewart Milne, chairman and chief executive of Stewart Milne Group, including Stewart Milne Timber Systems, has won an Association of Colleges’ (AoC)Gold Award.

He was nominated by Aberdeen College for providing inspiration to generations of students and apprentices.

Mr Milne, who was an electrician’s apprentice at the college in the 1960s, was presented with his award by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, president of the AoC Charitable Trust, at a ceremony at the House of Commons.

The Trust presents the Gold Awards each year to former college students in recognition of the vital role further education played in their careers.

After qualifying in 1971, aged 21, Mr Milne set up a business specialising in kitchen and bathroom conversions. Four years later Stewart Milne Construction Ltd was established with 30 employees and a turnover of £1m. The Stewart Milne Group now employs around 1,000 people across the UK and has a turnover of more than £350m.

„Colleges like Aberdeen have a very important role to play as part of the vital pathway to preparing individuals for working life, giving them the skills and an attitude to exploit, to the maximum, the opportunities that lie out there,“ said Mr Milne.

“It was during these formative years [at college] that I started to realise my own ability and personal potential. It was that experience that gave me the confidence and belief to exploit a talent I’d never realised I possessed.”

As a positive role model for today’s students, and in recognition of his significant contribution to the development of the economy in north-east Scotland, Mr Milne was awarded the first Fellowship of Aberdeen College last year.

To highlight further education’s important role, the AoC Charitable Trust runs a „mini me“ campaign alongside the Gold Awards. The nominating colleges each select a student who shows promise in a similar field to their Gold Award winner.

This year’s winner was Daniel Lawtie, aged 23, who has just completed five years of study at Aberdeen College and is an apprentice with the Stewart Milne Group. His first two years at college were spent studying joinery; he then stayed on to do his Advanced Craft qualification before embarking on an HNC in Construction.