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Bath College students win four medals at the South West SkillBuild regional heat

Students at Bath College beat some tough competition to win four medals at this year’s South West SkillBuild regional heat.

SkillBuild is the UK’s largest construction skills competition, designed to test the ability of promising young students going into industry.

This year, over 1,000 young people will compete in 15 regional heats across the country to win a place in the SkillBuild National Final.

Students studying carpentry and painting and decorating travelled to South Devon to take part in their nearest regional heat.

First year students Shannon Symes, Dean Hale and Ollie Takhar took part in the new entrant and senior entrant categories for painting and decorating.

Alex Franklin entered the bench joinery competition as a senior competitor, and Jacob Lower and Ryan Cottle were entered for site carpentry.

All students worked well under pressure, but judges were particularly impressed by Dean, Ollie, Alex and Jacob who won four silver medals.

Alex, an apprentice at Hawker Joinery, said: “It was a brilliant opportunity to test my ability against a diverse group of people.

“The support I got leading up to the competition, from both the college and my employer, helped me prepare myself for the task and contributed towards my second place finish. I hope to have the opportunity to go back next year and aim for first place.”

For Dean, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year, coming second in his heat has boosted his confidence.

23-year-old Dean said: “I wasn’t very well, so coming to Bath College to do this course has helped me turn my life around. It gives me confidence to know that I came second because I’m forever doubting myself.

“People tell me that I’m good at what I do, but when you enter a competition like this you can really test yourself. It’s down to our tutor Graham really, because he has helped us to get prepared.”

Ollie, 18, said: “I was a bit nervous, because I didn’t know what it would be like, but I got on with it and it turned out well. We started practising a couple of months ago, if we hadn’t prepared for the competition it wouldn’t have gone as well. I’m looking forward to entering again next year.”

Painting and decorating students are now getting ready for the Johnstone’s Young Painter of the Year competition in Bournemouth on May 17th.

Tutor Graham Walmsley, who teaches painting and decorating, said: “I’m very proud of our students. This is our second year of entering the competition, last year we didn’t get any medals but this year we did.

“It’s a great way to build their confidence, because it tests them against all the other painters and decorators in the South West.

“Shannon did really well. She needed another half an hour to complete her work and then she would have been challenging for a place.

“Ollie was a first year student in the senior category competing against a previous winner. We’re very pleased with the effort they put in.”

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