Medals and prizes were the order of the day (today 8 December 2022) at the House of Commons as Team UK celebrated its extraordinary success at the recent ‘skills olympics’ with MPs and supporters.
The UK finished tenth at the international WorldSkills Competition Special Edition this autumn. Apprentices and students went as far as South Korea and the United States to represent their country and test themselves against the most talented young women and men on the planet.
Gold medal winning performances by Team UK in aircraft maintenance and cabinet making, as well as three bronzes, saw the team climb back into the global top 10 after a 12th place finish at Kazan in 2019. Over half of Team UK were judged to have reached a world-class standard in their discipline, which saw them awarded a medallion for excellence.
Skills Minister Robert Halfon welcomed Team UK to Westminster in his speech at the event, remarking how well they had done and how proud they should be of their achievements.
WorldSkills UK shows us how important skills are and Team UK proves we can be the best in the world. I want to wish Team UK competitors every possible success for the future, as skills provide a ladder of opportunity for young people.
Team UK mingled with MPs and showed off their medals and medallions as awards were handed out to team members, trainers and support staff who had ensured the team enjoyed such a successful competition.
Lewis Newton, who won a medallion for excellence in the web technologies competition in South Korea, was awarded the Douglas Hill Award. Douglas Hill was the UK’s first ever WorldSkills competitor, winning a Silver Medal in woodworking at Madrid in 1953. The award in his name is presented to the competitor deemed to have overcome obstacles and still compete.
Lewis just missed out on competing at Kazan in 2019. However, he came back stronger and more determined and battled through to compete in Goyang in October. His medallion-winning performance helped secure Team UK’s best ever performance in the digital skills competition.
Fellow digital whizz Mona Nawaz of Balfour Beatty, who won a medallion for excellence in digital construction in France, picked up the John Barnes Award, which is given to the competitor who makes the greatest contribution to team morale. The judges said that Mona had been the life and soul of Team UK and could always be relied on to lift the mood and bring her infectious positivity to every activity.
The Best of Nation Award went to Abi Stansfield of BAE Systems who competed in the CNC milling final in Germany. Issued by WorldSkills and awarded by WorldSkills UK, the Best of Nation Award goes to competitors who have demonstrated the perseverance, integrity and commitment it takes to be a WorldSkills competitor.
Abi’s preparations were severely disrupted when she suffered a serious motorbike accident last year. However, she displayed courage and an abundance of skill and talent to bounce back and represent the UK on the global stage.
As well as recognising and rewarding the skills, determination and success of Team UK, the event also celebrated the contributions from some of the fantastic trainers, experts and support staff.
Mike Swan picked up the Woodbine Parish Award given for to the training manager who does the most to raise training standards. The award is named after the builder, businessman and philanthropist David Elmer Woodbine Parish.
Mike is a training manager and mentor who gave up his personal time to support the training team with the development of programmes which met world-class standard. He helped to raise standards of performance and prepare young people to compete on the international stage.
Steph Tibbert picked up the Jo Maher Award which, named after former Team UK performance psychologist Jo Maher, which recognises members of the performance and wellbeing team for their work supporting the competitors’ mental health.
Steph was recognised for her work steering the performance and wellbeing team through the most challenging of competition cycles, due to cancellations, disruptions and changes because of the pandemic. With a calm and positive energy, Steph developed a reputation for being a fantastic motivational coach.
James Callaghan was presented with the Kevin Large Award, which is awarded to the training manager who secures the highest prize in the competition. James has been involved with the Team UK aircraft maintenance squad since 2015 and his competitor, Ewan Payne, brought home the gold medal in Cardiff.
It’s been fantastic to celebrate Team UK’s achievements at the Houses of Parliament. Hearing the Minister speak so proudly about their success in representing their country on the world stage demonstrates the high esteem they are rightly held in.
Team UK is the epitome of success for our skills systems. Their outstanding performance -climbing back into the world’s top 10 – means WorldSkills UK can now focus on making sure the insights we’ve gained from the best of the rest of the world are shared across our UK partner network to raise standards for all.