Daniel McGeoghegan took silver and Sam Taylor took bronze. Both Daniel and Sam are currently enrolled at Myerscough College, completing the industry-led APL Apprentice Scheme.
The competitors were also competing for a place in Squad UK where they have a chance to represent the UK at international level. Last year’s finalist, Shea Mcferran from CAFRE returned this year to complete for his place and secured his space on the squad along with Sam Taylor, Josh Dow and Kelvin White.
The APL WorldSkills final took place last week from 16-18 November at The Skills Show held at the Birmingham NEC in front of over 100,000 visitors over the three days. The first of four days was a training and familiarisation day, then the competitors had 16 hours to individually build a garden from scratch designed by head judge and technical lead, Jody Lidgard. Competitors were required to work within tolerances between 3-8mm on measurements provided.
On winning McGarry said: "I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was a great experience and found it a true test to push myself."
The semi-finals had seen a change from previous years with the event moving away from RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, and having more of a focus on the training and development of the competitors. Over three days (21-24 August), 10 semi-finalists completed tasks including paving, decking, walling, plant identification, procurement and working to a client’s brief. This was held at a training facility within Myerscough College, and JA Jones Nursery and Cash and Carry.
During the final competitors were marked on elements such as block paving, paving including recessed drain cover detail, timberwork (which included decking and fencing), planting, health and safety and the overall appearance of the garden. The final also included a plant identification round created by JA Jones and designed to test the competitors plant knowledge.
This year’s competitors were Ryan Bell from Myerscough College, Thomas Cartledge from Reaseheath College, Josh Dow from J D Gardening, Adam McGarry from Wiltshire College, Daniel McGeoghegan from Myerscough College, Samuel Taylor from Myerscough College and Kelvin White from Reaseheath College.
Jody Lidgard of Bespoke Outdoor Spaces and Landscape Skills Academy headed up the judging panel, Steve Smith of Shore Landscapes, Phil Tremayne APL general manager and 2011 WorldSkillsUK Silver medal winner and International training manager, Simon Abbott also served as judges this year. Green-Tech, J A Jones, Makita and Marshalls sponsored the competition. APL WorldSkills UK 2018 opens for entries in March.