Medals for GKN apprentices in top UK competition
12:02pm Thursday 19th December 2013 in News
TWO apprentices at the GKN Aerospace plant in Filton scooped gold and silver medals at the final of a national competition.
Steven Castle and Mike Watson received their awards after two days of tests in the WorldSkills UK event, held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.
The top gold medal went to Steve, while his colleague at the engineering company was awarded the silver medal.
They had won through two qualifying rounds, beating an original field of 27 competitors, to represent the South West of England at the final and had to demonstrate their computer numerical control (CNC) programming and machining skills in front of 100,000 spectators.
Steve said: "It was difficult to work in front of a live audience. You really had to 'zone out' to ignore the noise.
Each competitor had to produce three different pieces, taking between four and eight hours to complete each one.
Mike said: "The final competition part had a more difficult profile but the practice pieces will also be used to qualify for the international competition, so we wanted to get those right."
The pair thought they had performed well during the event but it wasn't until the closing ceremony that they realised they were the best.
Mike said: "We're really proud to have won. It makes all the effort and preparation really worthwhile."
Having done so well, they both now stand a chance of being chosen for the one UK place in the international final of the competition, which takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2015.
John Pritchard, vice-president and managing director of GKN Aerospace Metallics, said: "We are really pleased and very proud that Mike and Steven have done so well - it is a fantastic achievement to win both gold and silver.
"They are great representatives for GKN Aerospace and for our excellent apprenticeship scheme. We wish them the best of luck qualifying for the international competition."
WorldSkills UK involved more than 600 people taking part in 61 national competitions in skills ranging from aeronautical engineering to landscape gardening.
The event is run by the National Apprenticeship Service, in conjunction with organisations from industry and education, to reward and improve excellence in the workplace.