The competition, now in its eighth year, is sponsored by the Lead Sheet Training Academy (LSTA), which specialises in training those using lead or hard metals in the construction industry.
Competitors were a mix of self-employed leadworkers and those working for contractors. They were required to send in a portfolio showcasing their work before seven finalists were chosen and invited to attend a two-day practical assessment at the LSTA’s Training Centre in East Peckham, Kent. The competitors were required to complete a series of tasks over identical model roof sections, all under the watchful eye of a panel of expert judges.
Commenting on the standard of the competition this year, the LSTA’s General Manager Nick DuGard said: “We were delighted to stage the LSTA Leadworker of the Year competition this year and the response from entrants was fantastic. The skills test over the two days was exacting but the standard of work was extremely high. The first test included bossing an outlet and on the second day the competition ramped up with a test to deliver a piece of work with double-break corners.”
Ashley, 26, was “over the moon” to receive a letter informing him that he had been shortlisted for the award. Having worked in the sector for seven years, he said he has always valued opportunities to expand his skillset. He originally started a Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Roofing Occupations in 2013 and, having achieved that, is currently studying for a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Heritage Skills at the LSTA. Now applying his specialist leadworking skills on sites across London and Kent, he hopes to continue learning and working in the sector for the foreseeable future before potentially training others.
Shane, 30, is based in Somerset. Having studied carpentry at college, he soon made the switch to leadwork, initially working with family. With his grandfather being a blacksmith and his uncle having worked with lead, metalwork is something that he feels “almost runs in my blood.” He now runs his own business.
Shane said, “It was absolutely brilliant to get up there and learn other ways of doing things, especially when you’ve been taught by one person. It’s fantastic to be taught by people who teach lots of people – they just show you a different approach. Some of the tips I picked up have made things a lot easier for me.”
As well as gaining industry recognition, the winner will be awarded a number of prizes, including a free week of training at the LSTA, a new set of tools and a copy of the Rolled Lead Sheet Manual. The runner up will receive a copy of the manual and a three-day personalised development training course with the LSTA’s experienced tutors.
The winner will be announced at the NFRC Roofing Awards on 10 May.