Tayla Wileman, 18, from Burton and South Derbyshire College was crowned the overall winner of the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year Competition yesterday (Thursday 20th March). This makes her the first female contestant to ever win the competition.

Eight finalists from seven regions across the UK attended the Grand Final (seven regional heat winners and the entrant with the highest overall score), which took place over two days at the ADEY Training and Conference Centre in Cheltenham.

Judge Tony Kite and his three fellow judges – Glenn Scholfield from Pegler Yorkshire, Glenn Stonehouse and Colin Yearp from ADEY – were faced with the challenge of marking the students’ work to find an overall winner amongst the exceptionally high standard of talent that was brought to the table.

Tayla Wileman had entered the Midlands regional heat in 2016 but didn’t quite make it as a regional winner, but this year she returned guns blazing to win both her regional heat and the overall competition!

Close behind her was runner-up Gary Knight from Southern Regional College in Northern Ireland, and Benjamin Dunford from Coleg Sir Gar was awarded with the ‘Most Improved’ prize.

The amount of prizes given away on the day was extraordinary, taking over two tables and the entire back of the stage. They were worth a total of almost £9000 and kindly donated by the competition’s fantastic sponsors.

Platinum sponsor ADEY donated £1000 cash to the winner plus £1000 cash to the winner’s college, a MagnaCleanse kit and hose bag, and every finalist took home a Professional 2 chemical pack and a goody bag. Gold sponsor Copper Initiative donated a press fit machine for the winner worth £2000 and Silver sponsor Vaillant gave the winner an EcoFit Pure boiler. These were just some of the amazing prizes the finalists took home.

Tayla Wileman, the 2017 HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year winner, said: “To win is so overwhelming. I couldn’t believe it when my name was called out!

“I had ten minutes left at the end and I was panicking that I wouldn’t get it all done, but now I know that I can work to a time limit and do tasks like this.”