THEY are part of a small army of caterers cooking around 39,000 healthy school meals every day, but it was their sugarcraft skills that helped two Hampshire County Council apprentices to success.

Jade Duncan, 19, of Stockbridge, and Charlotte Illsley, 17, of Fair Oak, competed for the title of Bake-Off Apprentice Champion at Eastleigh College, where they train once a week.

With a ready-made cake and a box of tools, they had 40 minutes to demonstrate their creative skills on the theme of apprentices.

Jade and Charlotte wowed the judges with their creation, which was a tunic worn by Hampshire’s primary school caterers. Complete with a Hampshire County Council logo, the cake earned them second place.

“No one who entered the competition had any experience of doing sugar-craft,” said Jade.

“Charlotte and I had never decorated a cake before.

“It was a very enjoyable and challenging activity, we had to work as a team and also stick to the time limit.”

Leader of Hampshire County Council Roy Perry said: “Seeing what these young apprentices achieved when they had never done anything like this before gives us every reason to be proud of them.

“It demonstrates the very high level of skills and opportunities that can be gained through an apprenticeship, and I wish them both every success for the future.”

The catering assistants are among 85 apprentices working within the county council’s expanding corporate apprenticeship scheme.

The scheme aims to attract more young people into the workforce and provide them with the opportunities to develop their careers, and contribute to the Hampshire economy and the work of the county council.