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regional heat contestants with Jody Lidgard lead judge BRIGHTER

WorldSkills journey begins for landscapers

regional heat contestants with Jody Lidgard lead judge BRIGHTER

The contestants are joined by APL lead judge and trainer Jody Lidgard

Future garden landscapers, including three from Reaseheath, demonstrated their skills at the north west regional heat of the WorldSkills UK competition.

Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture students Nathan Webster, Matt Fletcher and Aaron Byrne challenged students and apprentices from other training providers in tests of block paving and decking construction and were marked on the quality of their work and attention to detail. The competition, run by the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL), was held at Myerscough College.

Aaron Byrne, Nathan Webster and Matt Fletcher compete at the WorldSkills UK regional round

Aaron Byrne, Nathan Webster and Matt Fletcher compete at the WorldSkills UK regional round

Selection of contestants for the semi finals, to be held at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park in July, will be made once all the regional heats have concluded. The highest scoring competitors at Tatton will  progress to the national final, to be held at The Skills Show at the NEC Birmingham in the autumn.

Jody Lidgard, APL lead judge and trainer said: “The competitors represented their colleges well and produced work to a good standard. This is very pleasing as we are putting all our efforts into increasing the standard of skills coming into the industry.”

WorldSkills UK feeds into the Olympic-styled Worlds Skills final, held every two years to showcase the world’s top young talent in vocational industries. Former Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture student Matt Beesley was a member of the GB squad in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in  2015 and successfully brought home a silver medal – Britain’s first ever medal in landscaping.

Landscape gardening

Talented students prove they are among the best

Chris Shore preparing for his WorldSkills UK final build (photo thanks to Steve Burden Photography)

Chris Shore preparing for his WorldSkills UK national final build (photo thanks to Steve Burden Photography)

Three talented Reaseheath students proved they were among the best in the country by successfully competing in the WorldSkills UK national finals.

Garden landscaper Chris Shore and florists Fiona Davies and Robyn Longden battled it out in front of record crowds last week at The Skills Show, the nation’s largest skills and careers event.

Fiona Davies' final pieces from the competition

Fiona Davies’ final pieces from the competition

Although none brought back a medal, all three classed the show ‘an amazing experience’ and Robyn has been selected to join the potential squad for the next WorldSkills GB team. She and the other young people on the long list will be offered further training opportunities before final selection nearer the 2017 world finals, which will be held in Abu Dhabi.

Robyn will be encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Matt Beesley, a former Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture student who, with fellow team member Jonathan Gill from Northern Ireland, won GB’s first ever medal in landscape gardening at the WorldSkills final in Sao Paulo, Brazil this summer.

Robyn is a Level 3 Diploma in Floristry student while Fiona, who manages our Level 2 Diploma in Floristry course, is studying for her Level 5 Master Diploma in Professional Floristry. Chris has gained his Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture with us and has now progressed onto his Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design. He was one of just six students or apprentices nationwide to qualify for the finals.

Our florists had to create five designs – a hand tied bouquet, a wreath, a bridal bouquet, a decorated lampshade and a pair of customised high heeled shoes – while Chris built a garden to plan which included hard and soft landscaping.

Robyn Longden competing at The Skills Show 2015

Robyn Longden competing at The Skills Show 2015

As well as supporting our competing students, we also took an impressive stand showcasing horticulture, floristry, countryside and environmental archaeology. The Skills Show, at the NEC Birmingham, attracted 80,000 visitors. Many colleagues who helped to staff the stand over the three days said that in their opinion it was the best event they had ever attended.