Ben Howell

Silver success for Ben

Ben Howell, from Somerset College scooped second place at Dulux Decorator Centre's ‘Apprentice of the Year' national final which was held at Walsall College on 11th June.

After completing a gruelling six and a half hours of painting and decorating tasks, including everything from wallpapering around a corner to sponging effects and varnishing a door, Ben, who is currently working for Seddons, was awarded second place and netted himself £500, a glass trophy and £100 of Dulux Decorator Vouchers.

Competing against six other finalists, who had won their respective heats in Walsall, St Helen's, Leeds, Slough, Bury St Edmonds and Edinburgh, Ben who won the Southern heat held at his college commented: "The final was really challenging and such a close run competition. I really enjoyed all the different elements of the piece, in particular doing all the effects. I've entered many competitions in the past, but none so nerve wracking as this one as everyone was so good. I'm over the moon to have come second."

Paul Vowles, Painting and Decorating tutor at Somerset College, said: "Ben has done extremely well to come second in a very tough field. This is the second year in a row that he has come second in a national competition proving how skilled he his. Ben has worked hard throughout his course to achieve really high standards. Somerset College has a proven track record of success in regional and national competitions; Ben has continued that success through this result."

The work piece was a real challenge for the students as they were required to measure and set out, a diamond design with four separate boxes, which they needed to cut in and paint in striking colours. They also needed to mark out three separate areas for the effects work, which involved sponging with three colours, duette rolling and a bagging effect using helicon. To complete the task, the finalists, then had to wallpaper around a corner and varnish a pine door with two coats.

Beverley Whitehead, PR and marketing communications manager at Dulux Decorator Centres commented: "We launched the ‘Apprentice of the Year' competition to give students a platform to build upon their abilities and provide a forum for them to shine and the competition has certainly done this. We've been overwhelmed by the standard throughout the competition, which made the final a very close run event.

"The judges had such a difficult task to separate all seven finalists but there could be only one winner, who clinched the title with his even bagging technique and attention to detail. Ben was a very close runner up and really stood out with his sponging effect on the stencilling element."

Ben was presented with his prizes at a glitzy awards ceremony at The Mount hotel in Wolverhampton, which was attended by all the students and lecturers involved in the final, along with all of this year's suppliers and supporters and key executives from Dulux Decorator Centres.

Ben collected £500 in cash, a glass trophy and £100 of Dulux Decorator Centres vouchers alongside Heather Adgie from Leeds College of Building, who finished in third place and picked up £250 cash and £100 in vouchers.