APPRENTICES who have been chipping away at a trade at Weymouth College have swept the board in a national competition.
Thomas Whitehead, 22, of Weymouth, has been named the UK’s top stonemasonry trainee at the national final of SkillBuild, the UK’s largest multi-trade competition.
The college has also scooped second and third places in the competition with Darek Malecki, 32, from Cheddar, and Edward Shaw, 30, from Chichester, catching judges’ eyes.
Thomas, who works for Albion Stone Ltd, triumphed in the three day final which was run by CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council and Industry Training Board, at Preston College.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted, it’s great to have won.
“The competition was tough, but it’s been worth all the hard work and preparation.
“I’d like to thank my college and employer for all their support and help and also everyone at SkillBuild for a great competition.”
Awards were presented on the night by celebrity builder Tommy Walsh.
More than 100 trainees were battling to be crowned the best in their field in a range of skills including bricklaying, joinery, carpentry, painting and decorating.
The Weymouth College apprentices competed against some of the best stonemasonry trainees in the country at the competition.
Edward works for Cathedral Works Organisation in Chichester and Darek works for Wells Cathedral Stonemasons.
Weymouth College stonemasonry lecturer Darren Lawrence said: “The Stonemasonry department are extremely proud of Thomas, Darek and Edward.
“They are a fantastic example of how great teaching and employer support can inspire and influence a young person completing an apprenticeship.”
Thomas started his apprenticeship in 2010 with Albion Stone and has completed a hat trick of achievements in regional and national competitions – his first win came after one month of study at Weymouth College.
For more information about stonemasonry courses available with Weymouth College visit weymouth.ac.uk or call 0800 808 9440.