Local carpentry and joinery apprentice William Campbell from Donaghcloney has been named the best in the UK after winning Gold at the UK's national WorldSkills competition which took place at the NEC, Birmingham. William studies at South Eastern Regional College (SERC) and is employed by Stephen Hamilton Construction.
500 competitors competed against each other across 61 disciplines to test their skills in front of more than 90,000 spectators.
William progressed to the final having won two previous gold medals at both the intercampus and regional heats of Skill Build.
20-year-old William beat off stiff competition from apprentices from across the UK colleges and training providers to win this year's competition, which took place during the NEC Skills Show 2016. The apprentices were given a very challenging geometrical roof to assemble over the intense three-day competition, under the watchful eye of the judges and visitors!
William thoroughly enjoyed the experience and is hopeful the competition can act as a springboard for success in his career. SERC won a total of four medals (3 gold and 1 silver) and were the highest performing college from Northern Ireland, finishing fourth in the overall leaderboard.
William follows in the footsteps of former SERC apprentice Mark Hawthorne who won two silver medals at WorldSkills UK and Skill Build UK in 2013.
Williams mentor and tutor Rodney McKee who is from Kilkeel said: "William has worked very hard preparing for the competition and should be very proud of himself. This is the third medal he has won during his time at SERC. William is an excellent role model for the College and illustrates how rewarding and exciting a career in carpentry can be."
Ken Webb SERC Principal and Chief Executive commented; "I would like to congratulate William and his mentor Rodney McKee on this fantastic achievement. It is something to be very proud of and I hope they cherish this for a long time. William is a credit to his mentor, his family and his employers and I have no doubt that he will continue to develop his skills within the industry and have a very successful career. The success is testament to the high standards of technical and professional training provided at SERC and the dedication of our tutors to encourage students to reach their full potential and be the best that they can be."
SERC Head of School for Construction and Engineering Services John Nixon said; "I offer my congratulations to William and his mentors who have prepared him over the two years to get to this stage. This is an experience of a lifetime and recognition of outstanding achievement and ensures the quality of our professional and technical training is recognised worldwide. Students are encouraged to get involved in competitions as it demonstrates to future employers the level of skill and commitment they have within their industry. Past winners have successfully progressed into employment, because they have the edge over other students.”
SERC Head of Training William Greer explains: “SERC has witnessed many apprentices take their first steps on a journey that has led to success at UK National, International or even World Skills Competitions. Showcasing the wide variety of skills and talent we have in this country and we congratulate not only the medal winners but all of those who have taken part in this prestigious competition. Our young people are more ambitious now than ever and we wish all the competitors luck in their future careers within the industry.”