For the third year running, a Wiltshire College & University Centre student is competing in the national final of one of the most prestigious skills competitions – which starts today.
Jamie Franklin is one of eight finalists battling for gold in the landscape garden category at WorldSkills UK, and the only winner representing the South West.
The three-day event takes place at the NEC in Birmingham and is home to more than 70 WorldSkills UK competitions giving the most talented apprentices and students the chance to be named as the UK’s best in their chosen skill.
Eighteen-year-old Jamie, who completed a Level 2 in Horticulture at Lackham earlier this year, said: “I honestly didn’t expect to get through the semi-finals so can’t believe that I am about compete in the final.
“It’s been a fantastic journey and my family are all really proud of me.”
Jamie was one of three students from the College to be entered into the competition and instantly made an impression on the judges with his range of skills and attention to detail. He was amongst 16 students and apprentices from 55 original competitors to make it through to the semi-finals.
Although reaching the stages was a shock for Jamie, who now works with his dad as a landscaper and part-time in a garden centre, his lecturer Chris Roberts wasn’t surprised.
Chris, who is accompanying Jamie at WorldSkills UK and has been supporting him throughout the competition and since finishing his course, said: “I’m so pleased for Jamie; he has done fantastically well to reach this stage of the competition and I really want him to just enjoy this wonderful opportunity.
“It is a little bit different this year. Changes have been made and so Jamie will be expected to do things that students in previous years haven’t had to do.
“This includes students working out the measurements they will need of different materials for their garden on day one.”
Jamie and his fellow competitors will have just over two days to create their show gardens to really showcase their skills in elements such as paving and carpentry as well as plant identification.
Each garden must include timber planters, decking, a trellis, flower border and water feature.
This is the third year running that a Wiltshire College & University Centre student has made it to the finals in the landscaping category. Last year full-time Horticulture student Douglas Beck received a Highly Commended 4th place and the year before that, landscaping apprentice Adam McGarry won gold.
Ian Revill, Assistant Principal for Lackham, said: “Lackham has a relatively small number of Horticulture students and staff and yet we always manage to excel in this National competition.
“It really is a great credit to the staff that they can so consistently produce students whose level of skill is such that they can compete against the very best in the country and gain such recognition of their excellent standard of work.
“Ultimately this experience really sets them up well for their exciting future careers within the Horticulture and Landscaping sector.”
The UK national finals has been running for 65 years and is dedicated to helping young people to go further and faster in their careers, equipping them with the world-class skills needed to help UK businesses compete better globally.