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    Leading the way: Warracknabeal engineer and SuniTafe Swan Hill Apprentice of the Year Simon Bell is getting a great deal of satisfaction from manufacturing farming products in his family’s business. Picture: DYLAN DE JONG

Simon Bell a shining example


A young engineer’s passion for cutting, bending and assembling has driven his success to regional recognition. 

Warracknabeal engineer Simon Bell is respected among the most talented up-and-coming tradesmen in the Wimmera and Southern Mallee. 

In his second year of metal fabrication at SuniTAFE Swan Hill, the 19-year-old is Elsteel and Roofing’s Apprentice of the Year. 

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Simon said it was rewarding to see a result for all his hard work.  

“It’s very satisfying. I feel like I work fairly hard at my job to try to learn as much and achieve as much as I can,” he said. 

“It’s a pretty good feeling to be recognised for the hard work that I feel like I’m putting in.” 

Simon jumped straight into his apprenticeship in February 2019 after completing year 11. 

He said he started working in his family’s engineering business, Bell’s Farma Products, with father and employer Jamie Bell, at 17. 

“Because of the family trade I was lucky that I could do things on the weekends,” he said.  

“I bought a dual-cab ute at 17 and built a tray for it – that really made me go ‘wow, this is something I created’.

“That was what got me interested in the metal fabrication trade. 

“Once I started the tray, I’d come home every day and work on it.” 

Simon said the process of seeing what he could create with his hands was rewarding work. “Seeing something start as bits of plate and steel on the ground and actually fabricating that into something – it’s cool to look back and think that was something I put together,” he said.

Jamie said he and his wife Trina had not only seen Simon’s progress as employers, but also as parents.  

“As his employer I’m very proud and as a parent, even more so,” he said. “To see one of your children doing something they enjoy and working hard, getting an award like this just recognises all that hard work.

“It reflects that he probably enjoys what he’s doing. If you enjoy your job, you’ll do it well.” 

Jamie said he hoped Simon’s efforts would set an example for aspiring tradesman. 

“Hopefully this can promote a lot of interest for kids at school to see that there are opportunities in metal fabrication, and other trades as well,” he said. 

“Trades are still legitimately a very good option – we need them.  

“Yes, we need university educated people, they’re all very important jobs. 

“But ultimately plumbers, electricians and builders are all very important as well.” 

The entire May 13, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!