Leeds duo take the honours at BMI Apprentice of the Year
Matthew Ford and Oscar Miller have been crowned the pitched and flat roofing BMI Apprentices of the Year as the competition ended in two days of intense scrutiny from a panel of industry-leading figures.
At a special gala dinner attended by all the contestants, tutors and employers, the victors received a £1,000 cash prize for each of them to invest in their future, a trophy for the mantelpiece plus a goody bag of high-quality roofing tools and materials.
Speaking just after the prize giving, pitched Apprentice of the Year, Matthew Ford, who attends Leeds College of Building and works for housing association, Incommunities, said: “To win is amazing. I really thought winning was beyond me but I put in the good work and tried my hardest. Events like this, which promote roofing, make it a real trade and I’m so pleased to win.”
The flat roofing Apprentice of the Year, Oscar Miller, who is also a student at Leeds College of Building and employed by Grimsby-based The Roofing Corporation, admitted to being a bit stunned: “I had to take a second because I thought I was being highly commended then realised I’d won. Disbelief but really, really happy to win such a big thing as the BMI Apprentice of the Year.”
So tightly fought was the competition that the judges felt that each category deserved a highly commended award. On the pitched side Tyler Pedrick, who works for Avonside and studies at Eastern Region Roof Training Group, received the accolade while for the flat category it was Connor Pringle, who is enrolled at Bolton College and works for the Manchester Building Company.
Unlike other competitions which are largely hands-on, skills-based events, the BMI Apprentice of the Year tests ‘soft’ skills as well as technical knowledge. As such the finalists compete over two days participating in a series of presentations and assignments. These examine every facet of running their own roofing business – including business planning, presentation skills, and technical skills. The consensus among the contestants was that the competition had improved their self-confidence despite being tough and that they had enjoyed building a rapport with the judges, all of whom are industry experts
As judge Gary Walpole, Health and Safety Officer at the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC), noted: “The contestants are taken out of their comfort zone by being forced to tackle ‘soft’ skills rather than the physical side of their trade. What impressed me so much is how they all grew in confidence, really focused on the job in hand and achieved things they probably thought were beyond them prior to the competition.”
Reflecting on Oscar Miller’s win, judge Dr Ronan Brunton, Technical Manager, Single Ply Roofing Association (SPRA), said: “Oscar has the potential and opportunity to drive our industry forward. Over the competition event he demonstrated all the qualities required to be the Apprentice of the Year.”
Steve Revell, President of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NRFC), was similarly impressed with pitched winner Matthew Ford: “.The judges thought highly of all the candidates and the standard shown, but Matthew clinched it, thanks to his work on the defects challenge where he was well organised in his presentation, identified all six and more of the defects, then spoke well about the rectification works that were required.”
Mat Woodyatt, BMI Technical Training Manager, commented: “This has been a fantastic event, the second time we have held a competition to find the best in each of the two roofing disciplines: pitched and flat roofing. All the contestants deserve huge credit for their hard work and achievements. I know the judges looked long and hard at the scoring, deliberated at length about what marks to award and genuinely found it difficult to separate participants. However, in the end there can only be two winners, so heartfelt congratulations to Matthew and Oscar. Well done lads!”
Keeping the college on message
The roofing department at Leeds College of Building is now a NFRC centre of excellence as well as being the largest college of its kind in the UK. Chris Messenger, lecturer in roof slating and tiling, takes us through a typical day at the beginning of the teaching year.
Ford plans to get motoring
At 26, Matthew Ford has won one of the industry’s top awards, the BMI Apprentice of the Year 2019 in pitched roofing. So now what?
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Offering a 21st century modern material performance with the appearance of a weathered hand-made tile, the BMI Redland Heathland Autumn concrete plain tile - from BMI UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest manufacturer of flat and pitched roofing and waterproofing solutions - proved ideal for a planning-sensitive canal-side housing development just outside Oxford.