HIP headed to Northern Ireland last week to find its latest finalist for the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year competition.
With four finalists already confirmed from heats in the North East, North West, South West and Wales last month, we hopped on a plane to look for our fifth finalist.
Belfast Metropolitan College was the venue for the competition on Thursday 7th February, with a purpose-built marquee being put up to house the competitors’ bays.
Nine competitors from colleges throughout the region took part in the six-hour task which incorporated many different elements of their courses, testing them on knowledge, technique and speed.
However, there could only be one winner, and after a nerve-wracking wait whilst judging took place, Leonard Keown from South West College Skills Centre Campus was announced as the victor.
Leonard, a Level 3 student who is an employed apprentice, said: “It’s good to be able to compete at the top level with the best around Northern Ireland.
“It was tough, there was a fair bit in it.
“I managed to finish everything in time, get it all soldered and cleaned, get my bay all swept out.
“This is my first time taking part in this competition. I’m back to work tomorrow and maybe when I’m doing something, I’ll try to keep things as tidy and millimetre-perfect as today, putting in good work.
“I’ll spend a couple of days with the lecturer to see what kind of tips he can give me.”
Like all winners so far, Leonard walked away from the competition with a bundle of prizes provided by the competition’s sponsors – but all competitors received a number of items.
Stay tuned to our YouTube channel for highlights of the day, including our ‘What’s the tool?’ blindfold test!
HIP Magazine heads to the Midlands and South East regions next week for the final two heats.
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 finalists so far
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