TWO painting and decorating students from the Borders have fought off stiff opposition and made it through to the UK final of the prestigious Apprentice of the Year competition, run by Dulux Decorator Centres, writes Andrew Keddie.
Last week, Aden Fleming from Selkirk, who works with Finlayson’s in Galashiels, won the Scottish regional heat of the contest at Telford College, Edinburgh, to book his place in the final, which will take place at Bridgend College in Wales today. He will be joined there in pursuit of the £1,000 first prize by Greg McConnell, who is apprenticed to G. Mackison in his home town of Peebles and was proclaimed overall regional runner-up.
To claim victory, Aden, 19, completed a practical work piece which included elements of wallpapering, stencilling, waterborne glosses and special effects, all within a set time.
Currently three years through his apprenticeship at Borders College in Galashiels, Aden told us: “Winning the Scottish heat is a great achievement for me ... the competition piece was tough and tested my skills, and I’m honoured to be representing Borders College in the UK final.”
Greg, 19, who is also a third-year student at Borders College, said: “Hopefully, one of us will come away with the title.”
In the final, Aden and Greg will be competing against nine other apprentices.
Their lecturer, Barbara Hastie, commented: “I am really impressed at the work produced by both boys in the regional heat ... they showed exactly why they deserve their places in the final.
“The competition offers apprentices the chance to showcase their skills and I really would urge colleges to put forward their most talented students next year. The accolade that comes with winning such a prestigious competition provides the individual with a great platform to kick-start a successful career in the painting and decorating industry.”
In Wales today, Aden and Greg will have to complete a further set of practical demonstrations, which will test their painting and decorating abilities. The event will then be followed by a presentation evening at plush Celtic Manor, Newport.
Meanwhile, the duo joined forces last Thursday in the pairs craft competition, organised by the Scottish Association of Painting Craft Teachers (SAPCT) and held at South Lanarkshire College, winning the first prize for the second successive year.