The race to be named the UKâ€™s top plumbing apprentice is heating up for a local college learner.
Fresh from a victory at the regional heats, 19-year-old Lewis Blakely, from Caerphilly, is set to face rivals from across the country at the grand finals of the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year competition.Â
A win at the regional competition held at Gower College Swansea saw the Level 3 plumbing learner from Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s Nantgarw campus triumph over candidates from across Wales in a series of demanding practical tasks, which would be considered challenging for seasoned professionals.
His success was made all the more special by the fact that this was Lewisâ€™ second year to compete for the Welsh title, having narrowly missed out on a place at the national final in 2018.
Following the result at the Welsh semi-finals, Lewis Blakely said: â€œTo be honest Iâ€™m overwhelmed. I came to last yearâ€™s competition, but it wasnâ€™t my time. Iâ€™m absolutely chuffed to bits with the result. There were some tough challenges set at this stage but Iâ€™m glad that I was able to produce tidy results on the tasks I was given. Now Iâ€™ve got to get back to work at college, Iâ€™ll be interested to see what Lee, my tutor at the college, is going to find for me to do to prepare for the finals.â€Â
Lewis will now join the winners of each of the seven regional heats and the highest runner-up overall scorer at the grand finals in Cheltenham later this month. Alongside the prestige for both the winning student and winning college, over Â£10,000 worth of tools and prizes are up for grabs for the winner.
Lee Perry, plumbing lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd: â€œWeâ€™ve got a good track record at these awards, Lewis is our fifth learner in the last six years to make it up to Cheltenham for the finals. Itâ€™s really pleasing to see that track record continue.â€
As a Level 3 student and apprentice, Lewisâ€™ time is split between college-based learning at Coleg y Cymoedd and his apprenticeship with Aberdare-based plumbing and heating service, Darranlas.
Another of Lewisâ€™ lecturers at Coleg y Cymoedd, Dean Perry, said: â€œWe were really proud to see what Lewis was able to produce at the heats, he did a fantastic job and we know heâ€™s going to put the work in to prepare for the next stage. Weâ€™re looking forward to seeing what heâ€™ll do at the UK finals.â€
With places to enter the competition limited to one student per campus, Lewis faced strong rivals from within Coleg y Cymoedd to secure his spot at the Welsh stages. Currently, the college trains over 200 plumbing learners at its four campuses in Nantgarw, Aberdare, Rhondda and Ystrad Mynach.Â
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