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Third time lucky for Gainsborough decorator

SANDIE WEBSTER, A determined painter and decorator from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire has finally achieved her goal of being ‘Crowned’ Apprentice Decorator of the Year, after securing a place for the third year running in the national final of Crown Trade’s prestigious competition. For the first time in over 35 years, the grand

finale of the Crown Trade contest (part of Skillbuild and a WorldSkills UK National Competition) was held at the nation’s largest skills and careers event, the UK Skills Show, which took place at the NEC Birmingham between 14 and 16 November 2013. The Crown Paints competition was one of 70

national skills contests held during the event which gave over 700 talented apprentices, employees and learners a platform to show what they could achieve and an opportunity to be named the ‘best in the UK’ in their chosen skill. 29 year old Sandie, who embarked on a career

in decorating at the age of 26, faced fierce competition from the twelve other P&D finalists all of whom had earned their place at the NEC by attaining top scores in regional heats. Having completed her NVQ to Level 3 at Lincoln College earlier this year, Sandie knew this was her last chance to win the competition, as it is only open to those studying a recognised P&D course at the beginning of the year of entry. As in previous national finals, each of the P&D

competitors had to complete a demanding test piece, designed to really stretch their capabilities and test their capacity to perform under pressure. However, because the competition was part of the Skills Show, there was a very different

 Lee Bellamy with his completed test piece which earned him second place.

 CLASS OF 2013 – The P&D finalists at this year’s UK Skills Show, competing for the Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator of the Year Award.

atmosphere from previous finals. Over 82,000 young people and their teachers, tutors and parents attended the event, and as one of the show’s core objectives was to inspire visitors by demonstrating exceptional talent, all finalists had to compete in open arenas designed to enable spectators to watch them at work. “I’d managed to get to Crown Trade’s national

final twice before, but it was very different this time round”, said Sandie. “I’d never been to the Skills Show before so didn’t realise just how big a deal it was. Because of the scale of the event it made you feel really important to be part of it! “The whole event was amazing, and there was

lots of space to work in, but there were so many people milling around and stopping to watch us. Luckily the competition officials from Crown Paints were just as reassuring and helpful as always. Funnily enough, although we were

competing against each other, and really wanted to win, all the finalists bonded well and supported each other too!” At 2pm on 16 November the whistle blew to call

the P&D competition to a close. Competitors left the arena to allow the judges to assess their test pieces. This year, joining Crown Trade Competition Manager Kevin O’ Donnell and Technical Expert Mike Thomas on the judging panel were our own Neil Ogilvie, Chief Executive of the PDA and Barrie Nicolson, Junior Vice President of the Scottish Decorators Federation and joint managing director of George Nicolson Decorators. To find out whose work had most impressed the

judges, Sandie and her fellow decorators had to wait until Saturday evening when all the WorldSkills UK finalists plus friends, family, tutors, employers, sponsors and VIPs, gathered in the LG Arena for the all important Awards Ceremony.

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