THE WINNER OF BOLTON College’s Apprentice of the Year 2020 is Ben Page who is a roofing apprentice at Together Housing in Blackburn.
Ben emerged in the leading position as four young roofing finalists battled it out at Bolton College’s roofing workshop for the Apprentice of the Year accolade, awarded on 5 February during National Apprenticeship Week.
Receiving the winner’s plaque from Colin Falconer Technical Sales Manager at Welsh Slate, which donated the prize, Ben Page said: “I’m very proud to win Apprentice of the Year today. I only started my roofing apprenticeship at Together Housing in October 2019, although I’ve worked as a labourer with roofers for 18 months.
“Winning today means a lot and I’d like to thank Luke here at Bolton and all the supporters who made this competition possible. It’s been a very rewarding experience and I’ve learnt a lot from it.”
Ben was asked about the advice he would give to anyone considering taking up an apprenticeship in roofing: “I’d recommend the job. We have a great laugh as a team, I love working outside and I like the heights. Where we are, it’s a lovely green valley and it’s beautiful scenery to work in. It’s also really satisfying when you can step back and the roof looks good and the householders are happy.
“I’d say to think about whether you’re happy to work outdoors, particularly in the cold! And start from leaving school so that you’ve got loads of experience while you’re still young.”
Winning second place in the competition is Joe Moore, 18, apprentice at TM Roofing Service in Rochdale. Joe is in his second year at Bolton and joined the family firm from leaving school, working for his brother.
Lloyd Sayers, 22, took third place and is apprenticed at Howarth Roofing Services in Bolton. Lloyd, also in his second year, says he most enjoys working with the roofing team and hopes to proceed to training for a Level 3 Heritage Roofing diploma. He has ambitions to one day start his own roofing business.
Sam Hill, 20, who works for R.L. Lovatt Ltd in Bury, secured fourth place. Sam’s story is another one of joining the family firm, with Lucy Hill, his cousin, being Lovatt’s MD. Sam initially went to Sixth Form College and commented that starting his roofing apprenticeship first seemed physically tough in comparison.
Sam’s brother, George Hill, 23, also qualified at Bolton College and their father, Stuart Hill now Lovatt’s estimator, taught at Bolton College in the past, with current Bolton Roofing Lecturer, Luke O’Gorman one of his former students.
Tough Roofing Task
Bolton’s Apprentice of the Year took place over two days, with a tough roofing task testing the apprentices’ slating skills across the board.
The four apprentices were tasked with felting and battening their rigs after gauging the Welsh Slate donated for the competition and completing an eaves, hip, ridge and abutment.
The students also had to construct their own lead valleys with lead specially donated for the competition by Midland Lead.
Organised by Sue Wharton, Group Training Officer at North West Roof Training Group and overseen by Bolton Roofing Lecturer, Luke O’Gorman, the apprentices were judged throughout the day by Stewart Rowles of Church, Castle & Cottage and Dr Claire Griffiths, Editor at Roofing Today magazine.
Sue Wharton said, “In addition to promoting the industry and all that it offers, Bolton’s Apprentice of the Year encourages the apprentices in their training to aim for the highest standards.
“It also helps to raise young roofers’ awareness at the start of their careers of just how many opportunities are open to them in roofing. They have been brought into contact with some very senior personnel in the industry and the career paths they have followed.
“It’s also been wonderful to see Luke O’Gorman taking such strides at Bolton College helping to now bring it on a par with the best roof training facilities in the UK.
“The competitors have also benefited greatly from the generosity of Welsh Slate who not only donated materials and the winner’s plaque, but has also offered a training day for Bolton students to visit the Penrhyn quarry and slate mine museum. Midland Lead too has been outstanding in its support, donating materials, goodie bags and runner-up prizes.”