A 19-year-old from Caerphilly has been crowned the UK’s top plumbing apprentice.
Lewis Blakely, who studies a Level Three plumbing diploma at the Coleg-y-Cymoedd campus in Ystrad Mynach, claimed victory at the UK Heating Apprentice of the Year competition.
Lewis has won £1,000 and a collection of professional tools and equipment as a result of his success.
Coleg-y-Cymoedd’s plumbing department has also received £1,000 as a result.
During the two-day event, which was held in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, contestants had 12 hours to install a boiler, shower, toilet, radiator, pipework and underfloor heating.
Lewis said: “Going from the Welsh heat to the final was a huge step in terms of the difficulty of the challenges and level of ability tested.
“The tasks were tough and all of the other finalists’ work was exceptional, so winning the final title came as a real shock to me.”
He added: “I did put a lot of work in ahead of the competition and I am so glad that it paid off. My tutors and employers were very supportive.
“Winning the competition has really boosted my confidence and I’m excited to continue my career in plumbing. I’m hoping to become a full-time gas-engineer once I finish my apprenticeship and I think that this award will help me immensely.”
The apprentice qualified for the finals after winning the Welsh regional heat, which was held in February at Gower College, Swansea.
Places in the competition were limited to one pupil per college. Lewis beat off more than 200 fellow-trainee plumbers from the four Coleg-y-Cymoedd campuses to represent his college at the competition.
Plumbing lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd, Lee Perry, said: “We are immensely proud of Lewis. Winning the award is a huge achievement and is testament to his talent, hard-work and dedication to his profession.
“He has put in a lot of work to prepare for the finals and is a very deserving winner.”
Mr Perry added: “As a college, we have a good track record with the awards. Lewis is our fourth finalist in the last five years, and we have had five learners compete in the last six years, which demonstrates the talent of learners and teaching we have at the college.
“This is very pleasing as we work hard to demonstrate the highest standard of plumbing to our learners, so it’s amazing to see so many of them thrive.”