Jacob Botting of Myerscough College has been announced as ‘Best in the UK’ in landscaping after winning gold at the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) WorldSkills UK final.
Ross Conquest of Conquest Hard Landscaping took silver, and, Aaron Byrne of Reaseheath College took bronze.
The APL WorldSkills final took place last week from 17 to 19 November at WorldSkills UK held at the NEC, Birmingham, which attracted more than 100,000 visitors per day.
The seven competitors had 16 hours over four days to build a garden designed by head judge and technical lead Jody Lidgard, who said: "It’s great to see new talent coming forward and competing in what is a very realistic and intense environment."
Bottling said "The competition has been stressful but thoroughly enjoyable. It's not just about saying you can do it, it's about proving you can do it."
Byrne described WorldSkills as "a good, equal competition. It's tough and hard work but it's worth it. I try to plan my day out as much as possible so I know exactly how much time I have to do everything in."
Having competed in heat stages in May and the semi-finals at RHS Tatton Park Flower show in July, the final seven had proven their skills to the judges to be in the running for the title of ‘Best in the UK’ at the Skills Show.
During the final they were marked on elements such as block paving, recessed drain covers, timberwork, which included decking and fencing, planting, health and safety and the overall appearance throughout the three days. The finalists were also tested on their knowledge to name ten of the plants that were included in the gardens.
Overall, this year’s finalists included Jacob Botting from Myerscough College, Aaron Byrne from Reaseheath College, Ross Conquest from Conquest Hard Landscaping, Josh Dow from SRUC Oatridge, Jonathan Long and Shea McFerren from CAFRE and Christopher Page from Dundee and Angus College.
Other judges were APL Member Steve Smith of Shore Landscape, and 2011 WorldSkillsUK Silver medal winner, Simon Abbott, who will also take over the role of UK training expert next year for the International WorldSkills competition.
He said: "The show went really well and the work was of a very high standard, some very clean and sharp plots."
APL WorldSkills UK 2017 opens for entries March 2017. For more information, visit www.landscaper.org.uk or contact Lara Rixon at email@example.com
APL national business manager Phil Tremayne, said: "The industry has a skills shortage and the APL feels it should support young people entering this sector. The ideal way to do this is through WorldSkills and our APL apprentice programme. This not only aids the skills shortage, but bridges the gap between skills and education."