WINNERS of the BMI Apprentice of the Year were announced on 3 July. Matthew Ford was crowned BMI Apprentice of the Year in pitched roofing, whilst Oscar Miller scooped the title of BMI Apprentice of the year in flat roofing. In a double success for Leeds College of Building, both young roofers train at the college’s roofing department.
Selected from almost 100 entrants, just 20 finalists were chosen to take part in the two-day contest at BMI’s National Training Centre in South Cerney, Gloucestershire. Here, contestants were coached in presentation skills, health and safety and business skills. They also heard an inspiring talk from Ceiran Peel Price, himself a previous BMI Apprentice of the Year competitor, who recently started his own roofing business and roofing veteran, Gary Walpole, NFRC Health & Safety Officer.
An apprentice at housing association, Incommunities Matthew Ford said: “Winning this competition has given me more confidence, it’s a big achievement just to get here and I just can’t believe I’ve won. I’m really thrilled!”
Taking home the prestigious pitched roofing trophy and a £1,000 cash-prize, Matthew added, “I’ve enjoyed the whole experience of being here. Meeting the other apprentice contestants and role models like Ceiran Peel-Price is inspiring and will spur me on even further.”
Oscar Miller, apprentice at his family firm, The Roofing Corporation said: “The BMI Apprentice of the Year is a character-building experience, it’s like nothing I’ve done before. I’m so proud to have been selected as a finalist, but to win is like a dream come true!”
In a series of testing tasks, the finalists were grilled on their roofing technical knowledge, business ideas and health and safety knowledge; all culminating in individual presentations to the panels of judges on their career inspirations, goals and ambitions.
Paul Campbell, BMI UK & Ireland Marketing & Technical Director commented: “The skills shortage is the biggest risk facing the roofing industry. BMI’s Apprentice of the Year shines a light on the industry’s brightest and best young roofers, encouraging the next generation and showing the range of possibilities that exist in a career in roofing.”
After judging the particularly impressive and high calibre cohort of finalists this year, two more apprentices took home the Highly Commended accolade – Tyler Pedrick, who trains with the Eastern Region Roof Training Group and is an apprentice at Avonside Braintree for pitched roofing, and Connor Pringle, training with Bolton College and apprentice to Manchester Building Company, who was recognised in the flat roofing section.
Roofing lecturers, Chris Messenger and Dave Mallory at Leeds College of Building, which has just been awarded a NFRC Centre of Excellence designation, celebrated the double win for their roofing department, saying: “We do our best to create an environment where our roofing students can progress as far as they want to. We provide the skills and guidance and point out to them how much winning can do for their careers.
“After that it’s their hard work and commitment that makes the difference. With several LCB students winning a number of competitions over the last few years, it creates momentum and when they come back to College it inspires other students to strive for success.”