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Roofing talent shines through in BMI’s Apprentice of the Year competition #AOTY

Roof with water dripping down

Following a challenging and exciting two-day, pitched and flat roofing competition at the BMI Academy (@BMIUKandIreland), roofing apprentices Jamie Scott, of Bourne-based Sandall Roofing, and Brandon McGrail-Manning, of SPV Group, Walsall, have been declared winners of the 2021 BMI  Apprentice of the Year competition. Jamie, who trains at Leeds College of Building, was the winner of the Pitched Roofing category, while Juniper Training student Brandon won the Flat Roofing category.

Both winners receive a £1000 prize, a bespoke trophy 3D printed at the BMI Technical Centre and three years’ worth of training support from the BMI Academy.

“Winning the BMI Apprentice of the Year means a lot to me. I work with Building Futures which is a study programme which helps out young people who haven’t had the best of backgrounds and I want to bring hope to them and show them anyone can do it”, says Brandon.

Jamie says, “Taking part in the Apprentice of the Year has really opened my eyes to the opportunities roofing and construction can offer me. It has also shown me what I can achieve. I have met a variety of people from all different backgrounds throughout the competition, and all of them achieving so much has inspired me to push myself even harder and further. I have made some lifelong friends from all over the country, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us all”.

The competition was steep, with all 13 pitched and flat roofing finalists demonstrating consistency and excellence in many areas during the event. Competitors were tested on a multitude of subjects including practical demonstration, presentation, business planning, and technical skills.

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In addition to the winners, two further apprentices were recognised for their consistent high standards across all tasks, being awarded Highly Commended in the competition. They are Keeley Howell of Sussex Asphalte (Flat Roofing) and Kai Hunt-Beech of J. Martin & Sons, Corsham (Pitched Roofing).

The competition culminated with the BMI Apprentice of the Year awards dinner where all of the finalists, their tutors, employers, judges and industry stakeholders joined to celebrate the winners of the competition and the future of roofing. The 2021 winners were announced by BMI’s Marketing and Technical Director Paul Campbell and Sales Director Fraser Biles.

Speaking at the awards dinner, Paul said,

“We want this competition to inspire tomorrow’s roofers and this year’s crop of finalists are hugely inspirational, representing the future of British roofing.

We think it is crucial to recognise such talent to encourage people into the trade and the ability and potential we’ve seen over the past two days is great cause for celebration.

Our thanks go to the apprentices, their employers and their tutors for the energy and enthusiasm they brought to the competition”.

Andy King, head judge and former president of the NFRC, said,

“We really missed the competition during the pandemic, and it was great to welcome the finalists back to the BMI Academy this month. The calibre of finalists was very high indeed, and the winners did amazingly well to shine through in what was possibly the strongest field yet”.

Beyond Jamie and Kai, the six other pitched roofing finalists in the competition were:

  1. Tom Sherwood. Training with Bolton College and apprentice to Elite Roofing & Cladding, Tamworth, Staffs.
  2. Harry Purches. Harry works for Rowlands Roofing in Hereford and trains at the Centre of Roofing Excellence (CORE),  Hereford.
  3. Ronnie Guichard. In training with the Eastern Region Roof Training Group and works for Seeco, based in Rayleigh, Essex.
  4. Lewis Ward. Lewis trains at Leeds College of Buildings and is an apprentice to Morley-based Westwood Roofing.
  5. Bailey Howe. Training with South Devon College and apprentice to Stormforce Roofing, Plymouth.
  6. Keelan North. Working for, and in training with, A L King Roofing, Melksham.

The three flat roofing finalists – after Brandon and Keeley – were:

  1. Leon Bray. Leon is in training at South Devon College, and works for Stormforce Roofing, Plymouth.
  2. Joe Lauder. In training with Langley and works for Kingsley Roofing London.
  3. Nelson McKeown. Nelson works for The Roofing Company North West, and trains at Bolton College.

Unfortunately, three contenders – two flat and one pitched – had to miss the finals at the last minute due to Covid and it is firmly hoped that Josh McKay, Scott Thornton Roofing and Bolton College; and Dundee & Angus College students Craig McLaren, FisherDiamond Roofing and Adam Strathearn, Sutton Roofing & Cladding, get a chance to compete in 2022.

“We believe supporting the future workforce and celebrating uptake of and talent within apprenticeships to be crucial to the future of roofing”, says BMI Training Manager Matheau Woodyatt.

“We want to continue to raise the profile of careers in our industry, encouraging and celebrating the future of roofing as a supply chain and we would like to thank everyone involved for supporting the competition

We look forward to seeing the success and influence of the BMI Apprentice of the year winners and finalists and following their progress and development over the years to come”.

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