Great British Slate Off Launches to Find Best Student Slater


THE SEARCH FOR the country’s best student roof slater is now on. Taking place at the Centre for Roofing Excellence (CoRE) in Hereford between 8–12 November 2021, the NFRC’s ‘Great British Slate Off’ competition will bring together the best student slaters from colleges across the UK to compete head-to-head for six hours.

Each college will hold their own internal heat prior to the competition, and the winner of each will attend the ‘grand final’ in Hereford. There they will be judged by an expert panel of assessors including Bob Coutts and Matt Timby. Students will be judged on craft knowledge, hand skills, precision and time management.

The winner will be awarded:

    • Mason-Elliott Award by the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers and be invited to their annual Craft Awards Luncheon in London next year.
    • Will be considered for the team for the 2022 IFD World Championship for Young Roofers.
    • An all-expenses-paid trip to Spain with their tutor courtesy of Cupa Pizarras to visit one of their quarries.
    • A free City & Guilds Traditional Basic Lead Work Craft course courtesy of the Lead Sheet Training Academy (LSTA).

Taking part will be colleges, training providers and training groups:

    • Bolton College
    • Construction College Midlands (part of Walsall College)
    • Eastern Region Roof Training Group
    • Leeds College of Building
    • Newcastle College
    • South Devon College
    • South Lanarkshire College
Bob Richardson, Head of Technical and Training, NFRC

NFRC Head of Technical and Training, Bob Richardson said: “Just like the famed TV show, this will be an intense competition to test the skills and knowledge of the contestants to a strict timeframe – but rather than bakers, it will be slaters.

“After what has been an incredibly challenging time for the industry, we want to give those learning this craft the recognition they deserve, especially in the absence of a roofing Skill Build this year.
“I would like to thank all of the colleges that are taking part in this competition, CoRE for hosting, as well as all the suppliers who have helped make this possible, including Cupa Pizarras, Hambleside Danelaw, SR Timber and Tyvek.”

With the focus of the new competition purely on slate skills, the event is supported by CUPA PIZARRAS.

Stuart Black, Cupa Pizarras Area Sales Manager added: ” Cupa Pizarras is delighted to support the NFRC’ Great British Slate Off’ competition and support all learners in their journey to being qualified, competent slaters. We sponsor this NFRC event to help reduce the skills gap, and to ensure our world-leading quality natural slate has a base of skilled roofers ready and qualified to fit it to roofs in the UK now and in the future. The cream of colleges will all be competing, and Cupa will take the winner, and the tutor to our quarries in Spain so they can see how much skill and dedication goes into to providing the slate used in this exciting competition.”

Supporting the Next Generation

Competition Manager Andy Rowlands is well-known in the industry for his work on prestigious modern and heritage roofing projects as owner of Rowlands Roofing. He is also no stranger to winning awards himself; Andy is the recipient of both the international IFD award for pitched roofing and is the winner of several UK Roofing Awards.

Andy said: “Slating is a fantastic craft, and it is vital we support the next generation in keeping this discipline alive. What better way to do this than through a skills competition? I am looking forward to working with the judges and NFRC to help find Britain’s best student slater”.

Strict Specification

Competition judge Matt Timby is another IFD champion and has built an enviable reputation in the industry for his slating skills and heritage work in his company Timby Traditional Roofing.

Matt comments: “The students will not only have to follow a strict specification using natural slates but will also have to use a little artistic flair to separate themselves from the rest, as there will be room within the work model for an ornamental design of their choosing. I’m looking forward to seeing a high level of competition with some interesting results.”

Competition judge Bob Coutts has an illustrious record of coaching and judging many of the roofing industry competitions both internationally and across the UK. Bob adds:  “It’s just great to be back raising the profile of the industry and showing off the roofing skills of these young competitors from the various colleges and centres throughout the UK.”

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