The final two heats of the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year took place last week, with two more competitors confirmed for the final.
The task, set by Head Judge Tony Kite, involved working with a Vaillant boiler, Mira Showers shower, Barlo Radiators radiator, ADEY MagnaClean, Wilo pump, Danfoss two-port valve, a wiring centre with WAGO connectors, Pegler Yorkshire fittings and copper tube donated by Wednesbury Copper Tube.
All the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year competitors received a bundle of goodies from sponsors.
Stephenson College in Leicestershire was the venue for the Midlands heat on Tuesday, with competitors travelling from around the region to take on the six-hour challenge.
In a fiercely-contested heat, Max Murless from Rotherham College was announced as the winner and sixth finalist!
Level 2 apprentice Max said: “It’s great – I’m happy to win it.
“The standard was really high, so I’m pleased with it.
“I found the bends to the shower hard, but it was alright to be fair.
“I was proud of the work I got done today – it wasn’t bad!
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and try to improve.”
Matt Brown, Max’s lecturer, said: “I’m immensely proud, he puts a lot of hard work in, he works hard at college and at work.
“He’s a credit to his employer as well – we thank him for releasing Max today on a half term day.
“He’s done really well, it’s brilliant, I’m really pleased for him!”
On Thursday, HIP headed down the M40 to West Herts college for the final regional heat, in which nine competitors took part.
After an intense day of working, Isabella Stagg from West Suffolk College was announced as the winner.
Level 2 Isabella, who works with her uncle, has only been training for 18 months.
She said: “Absolutely amazing, I can’t believe I’ve actually won out of all those guys working!
“Their standards are so high, I thought I’d never beat any of them, so I’m chuffed.
“I was really worried about what I was going to have to do. I looked at last year’s test and thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s loads!’
“But once you get going, it’s so much better. I just carried on and kept going.
“The shower pipework had to be done all in one pipe, I had to get it all in line and level with the right distances.
“It was challenging but really good fun.”
Isabella’s lecturer, Ben Boxall, said: from day one she was very positive and got on with what she needed to do.
“She’s always keen and focused and wanted to get on with it. She has a flair with it and seems to enjoy it.
“The feedback from the lecturers and guys in the workshops is that she’s exceptional.
“Considering she’s a first-year student with 18 months on the tools in total, going up against some who’ve been in college for a couple of years – coming that far in such a short time shows natural flair.
“The fact she’s so positive and enjoys it really brought her to this level.”
Alan Stagg said: “I’m proud as both employer and uncle!
“We have to thank her mentor at work, Mr Maguire-Smith, who has dragged her along.
“Today was a typical standard of her work.
“We’ll keep her feet on the ground for the final!”
The highest-scoring runner-up will join the seven regional winners and battle it out for the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year crown in a two-day competition held at ADEY on 27th and 28th March.
Get involved in the discussion online – use the hashtag #HIPAOY19!
The HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year finalists
North East – Ben Fairbairn, Northumberland College
North West – Edward Jackson, Bradford College
South West – Ryan Fellowes, South Gloucestershire and Stroud College
Wales – Lewis Blakely, Coleg y Cymoedd
Northern Ireland – Leonard Keown, South West College
Midlands – Max Murless, Rotherham College
South East – Isabella Stagg, West Suffolk College
Highest scoring runner-up – Joseph Worthington, Petroc