Watching the World Athletics Championships draw to close in London, I realised that me and my team mates had more in common with the athletes than I had appreciated.  It doesn’t matter if you are training for a sporting or skills competition, it takes a whole lot of hard work, dedication and commitment and then some.

I can’t remember the last weekend I had where I wasn’t practicing my tiling skills.  But putting my social life on hold is a small price to pay as I vie for the title of world’s best tiler.  Even now, I have to pinch myself as I say that.  If someone had told me when I first started on Southern Regional College’s Schools Partnership Programme that I would end up representing the UK in Wall and Tiling I wouldn’t have believed them.  The Programme was my first introduction to tiling and I immediately loved it. I decided there and then that was the career for me. 

Starting my apprentice with DLP Tiling and Southern Regional College, I was encouraged to enter the CITBNI SkillBuild Competitions by my tutor Paul Doran, who is now my training expert for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.  Paul showed me how competing can help enhance the technical training you learn as an apprentice as well as giving you the opportunity to develop other attributes including good team work and communication skills, all of which you need to be successful in the construction industry.  Competition success also looks great on your CV.

Winning Gold in the WorldSkills UK Competitions National Finals in Wall and Floor Tiling was an amazing feeling and I after that I was determined to secure a place in Team UK for WorldSkills.  But nothing could prepare me for the training programme for an international skills competition.  From fitting my training around my work commitments to overhauling my diet and fitness regime to ensure that I can perform at the best of my ability, everything I do is geared towards delivering a world beating performance at Abu Dhabi. 

I’ve recently returned from an event in Denmark where I trained alongside apprentices from India, Hungary, Belarus, Russia and Denmark, all of whom I will be competing against in Abu Dhabi.  The competition was high and being able to benchmark my skills against them was the motivation I needed to get me through final stretch of training before I fly out to the competition.  Although we are all determined to win that Gold Medal, we are united by the love of our trade and it was great to see that each one us has the backing of industry in our respective countries.  It doesn’t how much effort and time I put into my training regime, I wouldn’t be able to realistically think about competing without the generous support of Schlűter-Systems, Johnson Tiles, BAL, RUBI UK and The Tile Association. 

Success at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 would personally mean the world to me. But I want to use my competition experience to show young people just how far an apprenticeship in construction can take you. 

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